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5.0 out of 5 stars Great input from modern masters!, July 1 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Comic Insights (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this book quite a bit. There's not a lot of material out there quite like it, and the stuff that is seems a bit more dated. All of the interviews in this book took place within the past ten years, or so. I was able to mine many "nuggets" that I believe will help my stand-up.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I LOVED this book!, Feb. 9 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Comic Insights (Paperback)
A wonderful, insightful, fascinating read. Won't tell you much about the business end of things, but who cares? Some of the biggest names in comedy give insight into the methods behind their madness. Almost didn't want to say I liked it b/c I don't need the competition in the clubs (there are more than enough of us new hopefuls to go round as it is) but ultimately it all comes down to talent, so, read away if you think you've got the stomach to be a comedian, and read anyway if you love comedy. Thank you Mr. Ajaye!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read for Standups or anyone interested in it, Oct. 14 2003
By 
MBD (Atlanta, GA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Comic Insights (Paperback)
This book is amazing! The interviews are fantastic. Whether you are an open-miker or a seasoned vet, you will learn a ton from reading the interviews. He interviewed the best, some of them, when they weren't even at the top of their game, which makes it all the more interesting.
Buy this book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A CLASSIC for those who love, do or want to do comedy, June 4 2003
By 
Joel L. Gandelman (San Diego, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Comic Insights (Paperback)
According to author Franklyn Ajaye, he was partly inspired in his successful comedy, writing and producing careers by Larry Wilde's Great Comedians Talk About Comedy, a 1968 question & answer style interview book, reprinted in 2000 (available on Amazon.com). Wilde's book contains insightful interviews with late 20th century top comedians and Ajaye hoped his own Comic Insights would be along the same lines.
In fact, Comic Insights, a book containing interviews with some of the early 21st century's comic geniuses, is as good as or even better than Wilde's wonderful and still timely book.
The reason: Comic Insights contains not only great interviews but also specific and concise advice on standup comedy performance technique -- complete with easy-to-review notes at the end of key chapters. It's one of the best books ever published on the subject.
Comic Insights is required reading for ANYONE remotely or seriously interested in performing comedy, key comedy techniques, the comedian's mind-set, goal-setting,
perseverance, the need to be YOU onstage and -- a crucial subject incredibly ignored in most comedy books ...TIMING. Hopefully it'll be reprinted periodically, like Wilde's
book. If it isn't and you don't have a copy then you'll be out of luck because you'll be missing a vital potential comedy tool.
This book was so fascinating, easy to read, and had so much good information, facts, performing tips and inspiration that I virtually defaced it with my colored-marker underlinings and little notes written in ink. Any second the Book Police will (rightfully) arrest me .....
The first section is one of the most readable explanations of key standup tricks of the trade ever written. If an aspiring comedian uses some of these principles it could save him years of bombing. Ajaye also includes helpful review notes at the end of each of these sections.
There are far too many superb tips to list here, but a few include studying WHY top comedians are funny; studying the use of timing, body language and visual effects. The importance of recording and analyzing your act. And, critically, the importance of being yourself in performance and act content: "The hacks can steal your joke but they can't steal the way you look at life," he writes.
Peppered throughout are the BEST written explanations (from him and other comedians) on timing EVER published. He points to the famous (and sadly not re-run) eternal master of timing Jack Benny and notes that timing is a way to "light the fuse" on a
joke, by taking a pause to deliver a punchline. Don't "be afraid of silent moments," he advises, and wait until a laugh naturally subsides before moving to another joke.

The second section includes a wide range of the 21st century's top laugh-makers (again too many to cite here). Some key highlights include:
---LOUIE ANDERSON, a master of setting up routines, using his eyes, space and silence, inspired by Jack Benny. Anderson says: "The secret behind timing is to hold whatever you're going to say until you absolutely have to say it."
--ELAYNE BOOSLER on the importance of taping an act, listening to it, analyzing it and enhancing it..
--GEORGE CARLIN'S great explanation of how evolved from a jacket-and-tie comediandoing stock, standard jokes in front of people who he realized where his parents' friends into a comedy icon for his own and younger generations by changing his jokes, dress
(getting fired for it) his attitude -- and the way many comedians forever would do comedy.
--ELLEN DEGENERES & PAUL REISNER: The slowing down joke delivery.
--JAY LENO: The importance of learning jokes (he has no joke file) and goal setting (you should be able to make standup within 7 years work).
--CHRIS ROCK: On the importance of writing NEW jokes to take any comedy career to the next level.
--ROSEANNE & JERRY SEINFELD: The importance being disciplined to constantly write down ideas (on anything even napkins), jokes, concepts and then sit down and translate those ideas into actual performable material.
--GARY SHANDLING: Persistance. He bombed for 5 years but never gave up.
The third section is especially useful since managers, club owners and agents tell what they seek in a comedian. Talent Agent Irv Arthur, among other things, notes the importance of total preparation to be ready for the big break when it comes.
This superb book, especially if read together with Greg Dean's wonderful Step By Stepto Standup Comedy (also available on Amazon), could save aspiring comedians years of frustration and tears....and it tips off civilians to what's really lurking behind the curtain of that comedy wizard of the Oz called "the comedy club."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not so much a comedy 'how-to' book but very worthwhile, Feb. 8 2003
By 
T. N. Williams "seriouscomedy" (Auckland New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Comic Insights (Paperback)
I liked this book. I bought several at the same time. All the others were comedy 'how-to' books. I found them useful to varying degrees. This kind of surprised me in that it wasn't such a 'how-to' book. If I'd spent more time reading the preview, I'd have seen that it didn't pretend to be anything other than what it is - a collection of summarised experience from an indisputedly star-studded list of comedy noteables. A staggeringly varied list of comedians etc but with common themes running through their advice. I recommend this book to comedians who are serious about sticking at this for the long-term.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fast Read - Good Advice, Dec 21 2002
This review is from: Comic Insights (Paperback)
This book is easy to read, but very intellectual in its approach to learning comedy. The author takes all your trivial questions seriously (asking if the comics write before they go onstage, if they DO he reveals if is in outline form or word-for-word.) It is interesting to read of the wide variety of writing styles--Jay Leno never wrote anything down, Ellen Degeneres writes down every word. Richard Lewis goes on stage with his "Torah" he calls it - his constantly-evolving sheet of material. The other inspiring thing is he finds out how comics did when they first started. Gary Shandling bombed for the first five years. Wow.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Inside Information on the Most Demanding Art Form., Dec 12 2002
By 
Glenn (los angeles, ca United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Comic Insights (Paperback)
As someone who loves comedy but would never dream of taking the stage myself, I found Franklyn's book fascinating. Going to comedy clubs has been a hobby of mine for twenty years. Everyone loves the headliners, but I also follow aspiring comics who are trying to learn the incredibly difficult skill of making people laugh consistently.
My main attraction to this book was the quality of the people interviewed. Several are icons in the entertainment world. I also bought the book because I remember Franklyn's stand-up days and saw him perform live a few times.
The book begins with an instructional section. This isn't what I bought the book for, but I found it much more entertaining than I thought. Franklyn uses his own careeer as a format to provide the instruction. He was a failing law student looking for another way to earn a living. He talks about how he developed his writing style, managing his material, dealing with stage fright as well as hecklers. This section reads like a story rather than a dry, how-to manual. I realy felt the drama involved with trying to succeed in a business where so many fail.
The interviews are very good. After reading the first part of the book, I already had new insight into the art of stand-up. The interviews covered the topics that had been introduced previously. They work well because the interviewer is a veteran comedian himself and because he has known many of the interviewees for many years. I particularly enjoyed the interviews with George Carlin, Elaine Boosler, Richard Lewis, Sinbad and George Wallace. In many of the interviews you get a sense of how they worked their way up from nowhere to become successful. I was very impressed at the amount of work that goes into putting together an act.
This is undoubtedly a must-read for an aspiring comedian. But for someone like myself, who will never have the courage to take to the stage, it is a chance to get to know several great comedians who I have enjoyed and admired for years.
Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Somber Study of Comedy, Dec 10 2002
By 
"ronlv" (Las Vegas, NV USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Comic Insights (Paperback)
In the first fifty pages Ajaye provides strongly written advise worth reading several times over particularly if you are well into the process of performing. How to study your favorite comics and still be true to your self is an outstanding section.
As comics write and talk about stand up comedy business, the struggles to break into a living wage level are displayed as mind numbing. The world is full of people that are tearing you down for their own entertainment both on and off the stage. Your desire to succeed must be massive to overcome the grinding down. For each and everyone comic that has opened up, they have described standup as really hard work. This book may depress you if you are thinking about a life in comedy. This is not a motivational book. It is more of a get tough or get out road map. Entertaining the reader does not happen in this book.
One great insight in the Richard Jeni interview is worth the price of the book. There are three equal parts to performing your own material: written construction, body gestures and facial expression. You have to work on all three with equal commitment.
Interviewing the very successful comedians is very smart. The 17 famous comedian interviews could have been the heart and soul of the book. The interviews should have been better written. With his incredible access to famous comedians Ajaye blew this chance to work at creating a classic on comedy. Where is the editor? My point is the following. In the book Success Secrets of the Motivational by Michael Jeffreys the author gets deep into the mind and art of each interviewee's work. He then edited it down to a very powerfully written book. With loads of exact quotes-each carrying great poignancy. In Ajaye's defense, I suspect that the interviews are lightly edited to remain true to the interview. It is still the lessor skill compared to a strongly worked book. Who wants to read court testimony? Where's the Beef? I hope Ajaye takes another shot at writing another book.
If you are already funny you want to read this book. It would not be my first recommendation. My rank order follows: 1. Judy Carter's The Comedy Bible 2. Step by Step to Stand Up Comedy by Greg Dean and 3. Did I Ever Tell You About the Time by Grady Jim Robinson. Fourth would be this book. The first book is critical to developing the foundation on how to write stand up.
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5.0 out of 5 stars As Good As Michael Caine's Book On Film Acting, Dec 1 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Comic Insights (Paperback)
I'm an actor who's been thinking about trying to do stand up comedy. I picked up this book because all my favorite comics were interviewed in it, and I'm glad I did. It's a great book!! As good in it's own way as Michael Caine's great book on film acting which is my acting bible. In the first section of the book Mr. Ajaye talks about what makes a good comedian, and how to study comedians in order to learn from them. It's made me look at comedians much more analytically and appreciate what it takes to be a good one. His writing style is straightforward and full of practical information. The second section has full length probing interviews with today's great comedians, and they are fascinating to read. They speak about their own beginning experiences, difficulties, fears, and methods. Some of them are surprisingly philosophical and offer gems that can be applied to life in general. I found myself highlighting portions of these interviews to refer back to. The third section of the book has interviews with managers, agents, and comedy club owners, and their insights are valuable as well. If you're thinking about being a stand up comedian, you can't do better than this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Incisive and jam packed with gems, Nov. 10 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Comic Insights (Paperback)
After reading Franklyn Ajaye's incisive guide to the stand-up's art, you might wonder why anyone would ever want to put themselves through the relentless routine of writing, performing and honing material that it takes to become a successful comedian.
Alternatively, if that craving to make 'em laugh still proves irresistible after all 289 pages, at least you'll have picked up a wealth of practical tips along the way.
Comic Insights is clearly aimed as a manual for the aspiring stand-up, and the aspiring American stand-up at that. Given the indefinable nature of comedy, Ajaye sensibly steers well clear of providing advice on how to be funny, concentrating instead on how to be more funny.
It's a book of three unequal thirds, starting with a definitive 'how to' guide for the would-be stand-up. This section is jam-packed with invaluable pearls of wisdom about the mechanics of the craft. These basic tips are often common sense, and are generally regarded as universal truths among performers, but they do need to be said, especially for the rookie.
Mostly, the key is self-awareness: knowing what makes your voice and persona uniquely funny; knowing how your delivery, stage presence and timing went,; and knowing how that affected the laughs you get.
Sensibly, Ajaye recommends aspiring stand-ups study their comedy idols to find out what makes them funny (though definitely not trying to blindly emulate them) and suggests you always record your faltering efforts on stage to analyse what went wrong - or right.
The book's crammed full of such fundamental tips, which no rookie should take to the stage without knowing.
Occasionally the language veers into the unfortunate buzzwords of the training industry, but there's no diluting the rock-solid advice at the heart of it.
A lot of these interviews are fairly old but the advice is pretty timeless, and comes from a collection of interview subjects that covers a wide range of comedy styles. Ajaye isn't always the best inteviewer nonetheless, the gems of truth always do emerge.
In the brief third portion of the book, Ajaye also talks to a small cross-sections industry folk - agents, managers, promoters - to provide a glimpse from that side of the business, too.
For anyone interested in being a comedian or just interested in what makes a comic tick, this valuable book will satisfy on both counts.
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Comic Insights
Comic Insights by Franklyn Ajaye (Paperback - Nov. 1 2000)
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