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Topic: Learning to write comedy
Message: Posted by: Martino (Feb 6, 2002 04:07PM)
Any good resources for learning this most difficult of skills?
Message: Posted by: Michael Peterson (Feb 6, 2002 10:24PM)
Here are a couple in the U.K.-



I hope these help, I personally have no need because the elves who live in my hair write all my material for me :bg:

Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Feb 6, 2002 10:32PM)
The notes from two of my lectures -- Funny Business and Peter's Patter -- include sections on writing comedy.
If you are interested, e-mail me privately and I'll send you my e-mail list of available lecture notes -- those and others -- and original routines.
Peter Marucci
Message: Posted by: Burt Yaroch (Feb 6, 2002 11:09PM)
Also check out Jay Sankey's The Real Secrets of Professional Comedy.
Message: Posted by: amagician (Feb 7, 2002 08:18AM)
I have to plug Gene Perett's books on writing comedy. Sorry if the name is slightly mis-spelt.
Message: Posted by: James Fortune (Feb 8, 2002 11:48AM)
Can you tell me a little more about the Sankey and Perett books?
Message: Posted by: Geoff Williams (Feb 12, 2002 01:29PM)
Gene Perrot (top comedy writer for Bob Hope, Phyllis Diller and others) wrote a great book called "How To Write And Sell Your Sense of Humor."

Message: Posted by: Fredrick (Feb 15, 2002 02:36PM)
The Sankey book, Zen and the Art of Stand Up Comedy, gives you a pretty good sense of the process and work involved in writing comedy.

There are also a couple of books by Judy Carter that are highly recommended by people who are in the comedy arena. She was one of the first magicians to move into the comedy club circuit in the 1970's. Search for her name at your favorite bookseller's site and you should find the list.
Message: Posted by: Geoff Williams (Feb 16, 2002 12:00AM)
I've been told by friends "in the know" who do standup that the Carter book is quite "dated" but still contains solid info. Here are some others worth investigating:

-- "Step by Step to Stand-Up Comedy"
by Greg Dean, Steve Allen.
HIGHLY recommended.

-- "Comedy Technique,"
one of Bob Orbin's famous series of gag books.
May still be available at your favorite dealer.

-- "Comedy Writing Secrets"
by Mel Helitzer; Writers Digest Books.
You may have to get it from the publishers if you can't find it anywhere else (Amazon, etc.)

-- "How To Write and Sell Your Sense of Humor,"
by Gene Perrot, Writer Digest Books.
Good book, similar to Helitzer's in approach.

-- "Comedy Writing Step By Step,"
by Gene Perrot.
SOLID advice.

-- "The Comedy Magic Texbook,"
by David Roper. David Ginn, Pub.
Good advice for developing magic routines.

-- "How To Be Really Funny"
by Mark Stolzenberg -
Copyright 1999 ISBN # 0-941599-47-1, paperback 128 pgs.
Publisher: Piccadilly Books,
Post Office Box 25203, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80936
USA Price $14 USD http://www.Piccadillybooks.com
Message: Posted by: Martino (Feb 16, 2002 04:12AM)
Thanks for all the advice guys!
Message: Posted by: M.P.D. (Mar 19, 2002 02:04PM)
I write a lot of comedy. Books are nice to learn what others have done, to learn how to write it, but, really I don't think you need a book for this. Carry a note pad around and don't think of anything funny... it will come to you, or you might hear something. Just write it down and you'll come up with something. I often find the funniest things I write come to me when I am up late at night bored and thinking.. when your mind wanders, you'll suprise yourself with the crazy thoughts that pop into your head. Now the benefit to having such books will help you structure your ideas, and performing in comedy clubs will help you know what works and what doesn't.
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Mar 19, 2002 06:53PM)
MPD, the late magician/comedian Sid Lorraine said the most important thing you could do, to get comedic ideas, was to carry a notebook.
He pointed out, accurately, that no matter how good you think your memory is, if you don't write it down, you WILL forget it.
As for books on comedy, trying to learn how to write or do comedy from a book is a bit like learning how to fly a jet by reading about it.
About the only thing books that allegedly teach comedy or comedy writing do is make money for the publishers.
Peter Marucci
Message: Posted by: Mike Robbins (Mar 25, 2002 12:28AM)
On 2002-02-06 17:07, Martino wrote:
Any good resources for learning this most difficult of skills?

1. The Comic Toolbox: How to be Funny Even if you're Not, John Vorhaus, ISBN: 1879505215.
This book can help. It covers things I haven't seen elsewhere on conflict and characterization and has exercises to do. While I agree you won't "learn comedy" from a book (really it can only be learned by doing it!) you will learn some of the basic elements of comedy.

2. The Comedy Bible: From Stand-Up to Sitcom: The Comedy Writer's Ultimate How-To Guide, Judy Carter, ISBN: 0743201256.
This is by a comedian who started out as a comedy magician. It gives you exercises to do and a formula (as much as there can be) for writing comedy.


Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Mar 25, 2002 02:15AM)
I have found that several of the items at this link (there actually written for speakers) are great for adding comedy to your act, also info on keeping it fresh and up to date ect. Well worth a look, some are available as e-books too


Message: Posted by: Fredrick (Nov 7, 2002 02:20PM)
Having just done this myself, check out your local university's adult continuing educational offerings. For a paltry sum, I attended a Stand-up Comedy workshop that was wonderful. The most important thing was that we all developed, honed and presented in a comedy club five minutes of material within 4 class nights.

Lots of pressure, but a great experience...

Be well ~ Fredrick

Message: Posted by: ruiefe (Nov 7, 2002 03:53PM)
I own Sankey's Zen and the Art of Stand-Up Comedy. It is a very interesting book from a man who says of himself he is a "comedian doing magic" (something like that, I would need to check the exact words) and can give an idea of the way to go when writing.
How about watching tv comic series and see when you laugh and trying to understand why you laugh (maybe with the notebook handy)?
Woody Allen's books?
Rui Fernandes
Message: Posted by: Sergeant (Nov 8, 2002 10:27PM)
I must second with a great deal of enthusiasm the/any books by Greg Dean and Judy Carter. What makes these books stand out from the pack is that they teach joke writing. They go to the very core of a joke and take you step by step to the development of a good solid joke and routine.

A word of caution, it is not easy. But, the two mentioned authors do give you all the tools you need to get the job done. The books will also tell you about carrying a notebook with you all the time. Of course this is useful for any creative process.

The Sankey book is OK but it will not really be helpful in teaching you to write material. I suggest you go outside the magic community to find the best materials for comedy writing. Why, to give you very fresh perspectives. You do not want to get in the habit of simply recycling old magic material. Sid Lorraine would always talk about going outside the magic community to find good solid material. He had a tape set many years ago called “Talk about Patter”. Even after all these years there is still solid advice on those tapes. Some of the material is dated but the concepts are valid.

Message: Posted by: Chris Calabrese (Nov 9, 2002 02:38AM)
Steve Allen (one of my heros) has written several books on the mechanics of comedy. Search for "Steve Allen comedy" (without the quotes) at Amazon.com.

Laugh.com has a fantastic series of CDs called "On Comedy" which are candid interviews recorded in the 1960s with some famous comedians. I have several of these, and they are all very interesting. Here's the link: http://store.yahoo.com/laughstore/oncomedy.html
Message: Posted by: RC4MAG (Nov 13, 2002 11:51PM)
I agree with Chris on those "On Comedy" CDs. I have the ones by Jerry Lewis, Jerry Seinfeld, Woody Allen, George Carlin, and Johnny Carson. Very informative interviews. There are many more available too.
Also I agree on the Steve Allen books, in particular "How to be funny-Discovering the comic you".
Other books I enjoyed, Melvin Helitzer's "Comedy Writing Secrets" and to a lesser extent, Richard Belzer's "How to be a Stand-up Comic".
Message: Posted by: Comedy Writer (Oct 20, 2009 09:07AM)
Mike Bent has a new book out. Haven't seen it, but based on his reputation - should be excellent!
If you need more comedy resources, PM me

Comedy writier
Message: Posted by: JimbosMagic (Oct 20, 2009 06:44PM)
Mike Bents book is Brilliant.
Message: Posted by: MikeBent (Oct 23, 2009 02:02PM)
Thanks Jimbo!
Message: Posted by: MrGreggy (Oct 26, 2009 07:10PM)
Mike Bent ran a great workshop at the KIDabra 2009 convention, in which he taught the basic of brainstorming and developing a comedy idea. Very helpful info that I have used often since then. Of course, Mike teaches comedy writing, if I remember correctly. I'm sure he can elaborate.
Message: Posted by: Comedy Writer (Nov 17, 2009 12:52PM)
Taking a comedy writing class is often very useful. Check your local schools and community ed.
Message: Posted by: BCaldwell (Nov 17, 2009 02:51PM)
Wow, this post wasn't near as funny as I thought it would be... :exercise:
Message: Posted by: Comedy Writer (Nov 30, 2009 11:59AM)
Another good comedy writing book: The Comic toolbox - John Vorhaus.

Posted: Dec 23, 2009 6:44pm
Start with any of these books, and work your way through the exercises while you read...