I'd done two open mic spots before getting this and let's just say they didn't go fantastically! With the help of this book I have managed to write some fantastic new material. All of which I managed to mine out of my own head thanks to the techniques I picked up form this book. I would recommend this to anyone who has suffered with the dreaded writers block, as it offers all kinds of writing ideas that will get your creative juices flowing again.
While there are a lot of useful exercises for the individual working alone, there are twice as many for those working in groups (No use to me but great if you're working with other trainee comedians!). Even so, there's plenty for the lone writer to get stuck into, including a complete set building workshop.
This book follows the standard format of the Teach Yourself range which is easy to follow and packed with handy tips and words of wisdom from other comedians. Taking you from the history of stand-up through comedy theory, joke theory & routine building right up to stagecraft and the all important business side.
The first comedy book I bought was "The Comic Toolbox" by John Vorhaus. I really liked it as it helped me to start writing some surreal blogs. However, it's not best suited for 5 minute, open mic stand up. This book, on the other hand, is very well suited. I'm very new to stand up so I'm finding this book very helpful. The book basically has a lot of games / writing exercises in it, alongside some comedy theory. The exercises get you to start thinking about comedic ideas in many different ways, for example, taking a positive statement and tagging onto it a negative statement etc. My advice is, just read through the whole book first and highlight the interesting points (and there is a lot). I ignored the games / writing exercises at first and just absorbed the knowledge. Now that I am creating a new 5 minute set, I'm playing with the exercises. For me, it's making the exercises more relevant and interactive. Everyone is different, but this way works for me.
I was contemplating buying Steve Martin's online comedy course for £70, but to be honest, this book has all you need to know. There's a lot of good information in it and it's much cheaper. I've decided to use this as my main book for stand up, and if i'm still lacking in knowledge, then maybe I'll try elsewhere. This book will keep you going for a long time. I'm very happy with my purchase.
Great great book. Read a paragraph and you know you're listening to someone speaking form experience. Has the feel of an old pro sitting beside you and chatting, rather than a teacher at the front of a class. Never pompous, never vague. To the point and really enjoyable.
Last week I did my first stand up set. Not that that gives me any extra clout as a reviewer, but what I can now say is that going through the process I found this book to be a really close and knowledgeable friend on the journey.
I was slightly hesitant about the idea of being 'taught' what is and isn't 'funny', but that wasn't what this was at all. It's a guide to finding your own voice(s) and create material that no one else can. 'Cause it yours, obviously. And the process of creating material is hugely enjoyable. Other than getting a good response when you shyly try stuff out on unsuspecting partners, friends and rooms full of strangers, it's the most rewarding bit.
I'd also recommend Sally Holloway's book 'The serious guide to joke writing' if you're just looking to generate material, or write for sketches and plays etc. But if you want a book to go through the whole process with you from wondering if you could be funny, to the etiquette of turning up to your first gig, this is the kiddy.
Even if you never take it any further, this book improves your batting average in social groups; more honest laughs, less shuffling feet and pitying smiles. If you have to give presentations or lectures at work, if you're obliged to go to 'lunches' or speak to strangers at 'work drinks', this book will be useful. It's also made it fun to watch people telling boring stories and recognise which principles they could have rescued their banal anecdotes with. Not that this is a technical manual. I'm just an anal potato. The stuff on dealing with adrenaline is useful in other areas of life too. Interviews, sports and pressured situations which you think you hate.
If you cant find a course near you, get this book.
I've recommended it to 2 friend's who've bought it and are now spreading the word themselves.
If you're still debating, look at the price. I've had worse cocktails for that amount of money.
I am always indifferent to these books, and deteste comedians who rely and depend upon them - however, it is a good read and gives a lot of great advice for getting stage time (only reason I buy this kind of book).
There are plenty of crap books out there written by unfunny hacks, but after reading this and then taking one of the guy's courses, I can honestly say it was the best book I ever bought. Not that he's trying to come on like Dostoevsky but its massively practical and finally kicked me into comedy, with the material and confidence his games instil in you. Please don't buy it though because comedy is full and I don't want any more competition.