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on 10 November 2016
This is a great book for beginners, but the book isn't called "Joke Writing for beginners", its "The serious guide to Joke Writing". On the front of the cover, Logan Murray is quoted, "Deserves to be on the bookshelf of every beginner comic and every seasoned professional."

This book is very much focused on the "Joke" part of writing, it will teach you how to be able to write jokes as "He had the sex drive of an animal- unfortunately it was a panda". Which is a fine joke, but if you want to start developing a stand-up routine, this would be a good, soft start and then you would start to develop your own comedy on your own or seek advice from another book. The back of the book promises to learn techniques to write funny and original material for ten different scenarios, such as Stand-up comedy and political satire. While that is true, it also promises Comedy sketches, sitcom scripts and Cartoons (as in the single frame kind, the new yorker) and comic-strips. The book spends about four pages on these topics and quickly goes on. If you want to learn more about these, then this book is not for you.

However, this is a great book for people who have never written comedy before. Even the most boring individual could read this book, follow along and create some funny jokes. For truely honing your comedy writing, search elsewhere.
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on 11 June 2015
This is a very useful guide to the art of Joke Writing, as it says. It covers the basics, what Jokes are. How they can be constructed, it goes on to explain in detail how jokes can be brainstormed, then written, then refined. A lot of the time the difference in a joke being funny and falling flat lies in the rhythm and the direct distillation of the idea in the clearest and simplest form. Just as in song-writing you need the EXACT right words.

In this book you get deconstructions of jokes, how they work, what happens if you change them around. How you can build on them or allude to the punchline later for extra laughs. This is a very good book. I have read a lot of books on comedy writing and I wrote about 5 pages of gags (half page of really good stuff) the first time I serious got to grips with the concepts in the book. I should qualify that by saying that I have previously written jokes and routines but this book sets things out in such a clear manner that it takes the banging your head against the wall element and almost eliminates it- you'll always get blocked, but if you want comedy to be your trade this book is well worth your money
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on 1 December 2010
As a relative newcomer to stand up comedy, I've always struggled to write material. Fellow comics have always explained that good gags are mostly the product of hard work; but when you're looking at a blank page, even if you have a few basic ideas, where do you begin?

Other books, of a similar ilk fall short because they are too focused on the way the author's mind works, which isn't necessarily the same as the reader.

Sally Holloway is different, she defines a series of joke mining processes, to find and develop your material. She has a troubleshooting section at the end of each process, that's easy to relate to.
Every other chapter, she points out typical writing challenges faced by her and other comics. So you don't give up just because your beautifully crafted gag, hasn't appeared after half an hours work.

This is someone who has not only performed stand up comedy but more importantly has literally years of experience teaching the art of writing comedy material. As you explore each technique, you can watch the thought process as she cleverly weaves in transcripts from one of her courses. This can at times be a little tedious, however if it's not relevent it's easy to skip to the next section, without feeling you've missed anything.

So, would I recommend this book? Yes, absolutely. For me it's the best joke writing book I have ever read; but be warned, once you get started, you'll find yourself waking in the night, desperate to get all the ideas popping into your head down on paper.
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on 27 March 2017
This isn't great. A lot of the book is word play / puns etc so it seems very old and bland. There's a couple of ok ideas but I much prefer John Vorhaus's The Comic Toolbox and Be A Great Stand Up by Logan Murray. Two much better books and much more relevant for today.
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on 12 April 2017
OK. Fairly standard stuff.
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on 13 December 2010
Short review: This is a really useful book. Buy it.

Longer review: This is a really useful book. Buy it because it's very easy to read, handily divided into chapters on `theory' and `practical' so you can use it in a way that suits your mood and your current needs. Sally writes in a friendly and conversational style that gives you the feeling you're actually present on her joke writing course (not bad for less than £12) and she sprinkles her text with relevant quotations from famous comedians to give extra inspiration.

There are plenty diagrams, for example of `joke webs' which are her special joke-writing tool for generating ideas. It really helps to see examples drawn out so that you can start to write your own. There are also sections on what results her students came up with from her exercises so you can compare your own ideas with theirs.

I also like the fact that this is a comedy writing book from a British author. So many comedy guides are American and although they have their value, the American sensibility and turn of phrase is different, and if you're British and want to write for a UK audience it's nice to have something rooted in British culture. I'd definitely recommend this book. My only quibble is maybe it needs a slightly funkier cover.

And finally: Here's a joke idea I came up with after reading the chapter on puns (don't groan, they are great warm ups and can lead on to proper jokes too) and then letting my mind do some `Background Processing', another of Sally's top tips:

"I was having a drink with Britain's Most Haunted's Derek Acorah today when he heard he'd won the lottery. He was pondering how to spend the money. All on himself, give it all to charity, 50-50? Anyway, he asked my advice. I thought about it a bit then I punched him in the face. I felt it was necessary to strike a happy medium."

Happy joke writing!
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on 10 February 2015
Maybe we had a very different idea of what funny is I would recommend The Secrets to Writing Great Comedy (Teach Yourself) instead, covers a broader range of jokes and ideas.
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on 21 June 2017
Banal, a book that offers very little insight into the creative process for anyone who is actually creative. This is simply a collection of the obvious and banal packaged for the complete beginner who doesn't have the imagination to use a search engine.

Pretty much all of the techniques in this book I was well aware of prior to purchasing it by simply googling different writing methods. The only reason this book may be of interest to you is if you wanted to know why so many of the jokes on TV are dull as hell and so similar, the writers there mostly likely use this as their bible.
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on 6 December 2010
This may be called the serious guide to joke writing but don't expect a dry academic tome - this book is a lot of fun! It is a beguiling combination of therapy and technique - I felt like I had been given permission to make mistakes and be and say whatever I wanted (isms aside) and that is tremendously freeing. Like a previous reviewer, I too spent a sleepless night after reading it mentally writing gags and sketches galore - even as a complete novice. The methods are brilliantly and generously explained and you get an insight into the processes of a writer at work: warts, false starts and all, rather than navel gazing analysis about what makes something funny. I loved the idea of using the unconscious mind to act as a background processor, doing the work for you as you think of other things. This guide is something I will use for lots of different kinds of writing, if ever I sit staring at a blank page. It is also a book that says 'hey you can be funny, let me help you and show you how' and holds your hand as you take your first faltering steps to comedy. It will inspire and excite!
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on 30 November 2010
I've read quite a few books that supposedly teach you how to write comedy but in the end they're often just a tiresome compendium of the author's anecdotes of (once) working in the industry. This book is different. It's totally focused on getting you writing from the get-go and there are lots of different exercises to try and inspire you. Some worked better than others for me but it's worth the price of the book for the Joke Webs section alone. I love this method!!

Even if you think you have no idea how to start writing gags this book seems to show you a way to get started - after that it's all up to you to keep going. Although it's main focus appears to be writing material for stand-up or topical shows there's quite a bit of good advice that'll help with writing a sitcom (which is my main area of interest). The only thing I wasn't too keen on was some of the drawings in the book - particularly the weird geriatric hands!! (when you read the book you'll see what I mean).

Alongside Evan S. Smith's Writing Television Sitcoms, an indispensable book.
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