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on October 18, 2004
If you really want to buy this book then dont. Buy her latest book, The Comedy Bible. Its basically an updated version of this one. I ended up buying 2 books because they both have different titles. I wasnt impressed. Why not just update this one. No she has to update it and give it a new title. Not very funny at all.
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on April 15, 2004
This book was a fun read that I finished the day after my order arrived.
Humor is something we could all use more of in our lives. I'm guessing most people who get this book aren't really going to quit their day job and try to make it in stand-up; this book is worth it anyway. Anybody who deals with other people, in your work or otherwise, will find humor a useful skill to develop. I teach and do radio work, both of which require trying to keep my audience awake, and humor, even if it isn't quite ready for "Seinfeld", is one of the best ways to achieve that.
In this book you'll learn about the structure of humor, and how to use any experience from your own life, good or bad, to be funny - or to develop other kinds of material, like short stories or radio drama, though you will have to make these kinds of connections yourself.
I find Carter's approach much more useful than just trying to memorize and retell jokes from a book - which very likely don't apply to yourself and your potential audience anyway. If you live in another country and culture, for example, jokes assuming you grew up in the United States are likely to be puzzling to your listeners at best - in any case not funny. Shared experience is an essential for any kind of writing and humor, and identifying and drawing on that shared experience requires the kind of specific skills you can learn about in this book.
To be honest, I didn't laugh at all the jokes in the book, but my admiration for Carter as an effective *teacher* grew as I read on. Her approach is strictly hands-on - she includes practical exercises in each section - and she makes each step perfectly clear along the way. Not everybody who can do something can teach it (and the reverse applies as well!), but Carter's pedagogy is solid.
I especially liked the parts on comparisons, similes and mimicking - all of which my students respond to warmly in class. Learning the importance of "attitude" in joke telling was a useful insight; also why one should avoid "telling stories", regardless of how funny *you* think they are. Though Carter says it can't be taught, she does offer some good hints regarding timing, which is at the core of every successful joke. Other useful topics include how to develop a persona, the importance of feedback, and how to deal with failure.
I enjoyed the comments, with photos, by big names in the field, some of whom I didn't know before, like Margaret Smith, Dale Gonyea, Paula Poundstone, and Richard Lewis, along with more familiar ones, like Ellen DeGeneres, Roseanne Barr, Jerry Seinfeld, and Steven Wright.
One thing I would have appreciated in this book is an *index*. I found myself thumbing through the whole book to find bits I wanted to reread. The table of contents helps, but isn't quite enough.
If you want more specific and detailed information on how to really do comedy professionally, I'd suggest Carter's _The Comedy Bible_, which took me a bit longer to read, but is correspondingly richer in solid information. For a sample of what to expect in both books and to hear what Carter sounds like in person, there's a recorded interview with her at
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on January 2, 2001
Judy seems to think that you can't teach someone to be funny but that is not true. By teaching somebody how to find humor within a topic you teach them to be funny. Comedy is not always about you and your problems either. Though you can get some good material from this, if that's all you talk about on stage then your not as good as you could be. I have researched and found very specific technical methods for digging funny material out of anything. Judy tells you if your life doesn't suck then you can't be funny. I completely disagree. Bill Gates could do standup if he wanted to.
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on June 20, 2003
From the first page I was hooked. After finishing it I'm reading parts of it again. The techniques used in this book work. I purposely tried what I used to do on stage & Judy's techniques in the same set & Judy's received more laughs. This book is in fact the bible for anyone getting in to the business from Stand up's to comedy writers, to people looking to do one man/woman shows. It spans so many areas within comedy, even developing ideas for spec scripts for sitcoms. I've already recommended this book to two aspiring writers & one comic & I will update this review with their reactions, I know they'll be impressed. If you're out there looking to get in to stand up GET THIS BOOK!!, it's straight to the point & yes its long but for those of us without A.D.D. we can handle it!. JD Hazelwood says, "The author tells you all these "no no's " that you can't do in stand up comedy, that I hear comedians doing all the time." The idea of stand up is to become your own stand up comic, not to follow the crowd. Finding your own nitch is the key, not doing what everyone else does. Otherwise you're a "HACK!" No disrespect, but I recommend JD read this book again and this time think only about what you're capable of doing & try out Judy's techniques, you've got nothing to lose & so much to gain.
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on August 9, 2002
This book must surely be one of the few writing how-to texts I've purchased that's really worth the money. Though too narrow in focus to work for prose writers, this text actually gets down into the nitty-gritty of creating material that is on-target, marketable, and interesting. Though incomplete in its examination of the potentials of comedy, it gives students a thorough grounding in the creation of humorous content for the stage.
Carter shies away from telling you too much on how to do topical material, instead coaching the novice comic to focus on the one thing you know more about than anyone else--your own fool self. By simply starting with having you talk about what's on your mind, she presents you with an inexhaustable source of content. This is mother's milk comedy, of course, but if you want something punchy like Foxworthy's "Redneck" routine or Margaret Cho's ethnic commentary, that will come with experience.
The stand-up comedy Carter coaches you on in this book has little to do with the joke-telling of Jack Benny or Henny Youngman. Instead, you're presented with what seems a modern form of Native American storytelling, with the focus on the self. This will not appeal to all up-and-coming comics, and some might find this book rather trying. Starting out, however, most new comics will find good grounding in the stylistic tactics of this book.
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on January 15, 2002
A truly incredible book, Carter breaks down comedy performance into very tiny pieces so we ought to be able to produce outstanding material. It leaves me awestruck. With everybody near and far, high and low, saying you either have it or you don't... along comes Carter and says if you want to learn how to do it follow through with the work in this book. There are lots of projects, lists of things to do and exercises. Her blindingly insightful advise to not try to be funny is very helpful. Instead, you work on your experiences to turn them into entertaining commentary, routines or speeches. Eventually, you work you way though the process of getting laughs allowing yourself to be surprised by the positive reception. If there are no laughs you just move on having told them an interesting story. You keep working on your stories until the laughs come. It is a cross between a textbook with assignments and a highly motivational book. Carter breaks down into fine detail what makes people laugh. Even if you are not going to shoot for being a famous stand up comedian, you can learn how to spice up you speeches and conversations-to lighten up. The author does not talk down to the reader. Reading Carter, it feels like she is in the room with constant encourage that it will happen. Carter must be a wonderful caring person.
She is not saying your life has to be messed up to have a source of comedy from your experiences. She is saying it is not a negative--exploit it. She shows how humility and self deprecation can work with out bringing you down. The book is impressively easy to read, but the exercises are not easy. You will need to set aside a lot of time for the projects and exercises to make the book work for you. It must be a good cheap initial substitute for going to her school. In a relative's, guest bedroom I spotted this book that was acquired at one of her seminars. I read it and promptly ordered another of her books from Amazon. Even if I don't become very funny I will be a better speaker in the future from working through this book. Even though I have read the book carefully, I have a lot of work to do with this book yet.
At the end is a list of comedy clubs, comedy publications, and agents. The list of comedy schools is very short. It only lists her school. After doing such a great book it is exceeding easy for me to accept this touch of self promotion.
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on November 20, 1998
"Stand-Up Comedy" is a hilarious and immensely-informative guide to creating a "killer act," performing it, and even making money with it. Judy Carter, as sexy as she is talented, reveals a wealth of stand-up techniques. Even at the start of the book, Carter writes about the "Five Big Secrets to Making People Laugh" (one of them is, ironically, "Don't try to be funny"). This quintet of comedic wisdom is, in itself, worth the price of the book. Another estimable featue is the assemblage of master comedians (Jerry Seinfeld, Paul Poundstone, Garry Shandling, etc.) and Carter's a fine accessment of what makes each of them so unique--not to mention funny. Carter's prose is concise, witty, and insightful (though I don't agree with her when she says "the more miserable your life, the better your act"). The book's layout is appealing and has plenty of white space. And in the Appendix, Carter includes a list of comedy clubs, comedy publications, and agents who handle comedians. My only hope is that Carter is preparing a much-needed second edition to this classic work.
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on June 21, 1998
I wanted her to teach me, not just talk about her experiences. I wanted examples of good and bad lines and jokes. I wanted to know how to judge a good line from a bad one and how to change bad to good. I got it all. She writes well about all of the topics. She is a good writer, funny, believable, and encouraging.
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on November 16, 2002
I started doing stand-up after taking a class. I must say this book was better than the class! Everything you need to develop your own funny monologue. Even if you decide not to pursue a career as a comedian, you can improve your sense of humor which will help you in your communication skills. What is funny is usually something with a surprise at the end. Another funny topic is a known truth that society tries to keep under the rugs. The life as a comedian is rough, no pay and minimum required guests (at least in NYC). In addition to excerpts of monologues from famous comedians, this book also offers encouragement to beginners. It was told that during Arsenio Hall's first time at stand-up, he walked out the door when they announced his name. So don't feel bad if you get nervous.
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on March 29, 2000
Probably the most useful book on stand up comedy I've read so far and i've been looking around. What amkes this book so great is the fact that it is so detailed. most stand up books give vague insights into the creation of comedy material often suggesting that comedy is like magic but Carter actually gives insight into the creation of effective comedy material. i would recommend this book to those who wish to learn how to write and perform more effectively. This book is a good guideline but you already have to have a comic mind to be good.
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