The Complete Idiot's Guide to Comedy Writing

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Overview

Comedy is serious business-and serious money. In this guide, comedian, writer, and teacher Jim Mendrinos explains the principles of comedy and how to apply them to forms from stand-up to sitcoms- including fiction, film, speeches, articles, essays, and more. He also includes exercises designed to hone the craft, break through writer's block, and tailor a piece to its intended audience.
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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Comedy Writing

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Overview

Comedy is serious business-and serious money. In this guide, comedian, writer, and teacher Jim Mendrinos explains the principles of comedy and how to apply them to forms from stand-up to sitcoms- including fiction, film, speeches, articles, essays, and more. He also includes exercises designed to hone the craft, break through writer's block, and tailor a piece to its intended audience.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592572311
  • Publisher: Alpha Books
  • Publication date: 7/6/2004
  • Series: Complete Idiot's Guide Series
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 7.38 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

James Mendrinos is a New York-based writer and comedian and long time comedy writing teacher for the Gotham Writer's Workshops. He is a former touring stand-up comic, working with Chris Rock, Colin Quinn, and Sam Kinison, and has appeared on Comedy Central. He was the sole writer for USA Network Presents: The Problem Child, starring Gilbert Gottfried, and has written and contributed to numerous other network projects for MTV, NBC, and more. He is also an active writer for film and stage, including many film options and over 60 stage productions in New York City.
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Table of Contents

Part 1 Finding the Funny 1
1 What's Funny? 3
The Many Faces of Comedy 4
Comedy for the Page 5
Comedy for Ensemble Performers 8
Comedy for One 12
Common Threads in All Comedy 13
2 You Are Funny 15
Why People Laugh 15
Growing a Funny Bone 19
Keeping Track of It All 21
What Makes You Laugh? 23
3 Looking for the Funny 25
Inspiration vs. Perspiration 25
The Best Places to Find Comedy Ideas 28
Examine Each Situation for Comedy Potential 30
4 Types of Comedy 33
Humor Has Categories 34
Stand-Alone Jokes 35
Story Jokes 37
Physical Jokes 39
Character Jokes 40
Part 2 Basic Comedy Construction 43
5 Building a Laugh 45
The Universal Joke Formula 45
Premise: The Subject 47
Point of View: How You See It 49
The Twist: Getting to the Humor 51
Keeping the Comedy Visual 56
6 Comedy Writing Rules 59
Clarity Is Everything 59
End on a Trigger 62
Go All the Way 62
Soul-Searching Comedy 63
It's All About Emotions 64
Stay on Topic 64
Make It Matter 65
7 Know What You're Talking About 67
The Premise 68
Research Everything 71
The Subject Isn't the Subject 72
Funny Focus 72
Organizing All This Information 74
Be Sure You're Sure About the Joke 75
8 Exploring Your Point of View 77
POV Defines Comedic Voice 77
Basic Emotions 79
Don't Suck, Part Two 82
Try Something New 85
9 Let's Twist Again 87
Choosing the Right Twist 87
Surprise! 90
Mix It Up 92
Clear Twists 92
Twists on Top of Twists 93
10 Congratulations! It's Funny 95
Putting Together the Elements 95
Matching Your Joke to Your Comedy Style 97
Fine-Tuning Your Presentation 98
Keep Going: Write Every Day 100
Part 3 The Art of Comedy Writing 103
11 Long-Form Comedy 105
Turning One-Liners into Bits 105
Writing with Speed 109
Stories 111
Story Revision 116
Stories for Jokers 116
Exercise: Make It Longer 116
12 Comedy Is Life 119
Finding Common Ground with Your Audience 119
Changing Attitudes 122
Nothing Is Too Obscure 123
Stay Involved 123
Don't Lie ... Well ... Only Lie a Little 126
13 It's All About the Words 129
Keep the Language Simple 130
Use Language as Art 130
Use Your Words to Create a Rhythm 131
Write In Silence and Physical Movement 132
Keep It Clean 133
14 Going All the Way 137
Don't Hold Back Anything 137
Accentuate the Positive 139
Eliminate the Negative 140
Don't Mess with Mr. In-Between 141
This Sucks 141
Part 4 The Craft of Comedy Writing 143
15 Learning to Let Go 145
Ready to Edit? 145
Give It a Little Tweak 146
Addition by Subtraction 146
Long-Form Editing 147
Apply for Your Artistic License 152
16 Everything Old Is New Again 155
Comedy Is a Work in Progress 155
This Old Joke 159
The Changing Order of Things 160
"This Bit Just Might Work If I Change ..." 161
Exercise: Long-Lost Laughter 162
17 Who's Going to Laugh at This? 163
Relating to Your Audience 163
Cater, Don't Pander 164
Edgy Humor 166
Topical Joke or Cheap Shot? 168
Staying Unique 169
18 Not All Jokes Work Everywhere 171
Does It Have a Pulse? 172
Styles Define Markets 172
There's Room for Every Joke 173
The Square Peg Meets the Round Hole 174
The A to Z of Saleable Comedy 174
19 Preparing to Be Professional 181
Keeping Your Ideas Current 181
Knowing What Ideas to Develop Next 182
Money for Funny 184
Buyers and Bloodsuckers 187
20 If It's Funny, It's Money 193
Action! 193
Selling Your Screenplay 194
Selling Sitcoms 199
The Allure of Greasepaint 199
Chapter One 201
More Funny Books 202
The Real Story 203
Comedy Delivered to Your Door 205
Psst, Hey Buddy, Wanna Buy a Joke? 206
Comics and DJs and Hosts--Oh My! 207
Speakers Say the Funniest Things 207
Odds and Ends 208
First Contact 208
Part 5 Different Jokes for Different Folks 211
21 Comedy on the Page 213
Did You Hear the One About 214
Stop the Presses! 217
A Fictional Accounting 219
The Sunday Funnies 224
The Caption Reads 227
22 Sitcoms 229
How Sitcoms Work 229
Structuring Your Spec-Script 236
Formatting Your Spec-Script 238
Spec-Scripts vs. Pilots 241
Outlines and Treatments 243
The Show Bible 244
Using Your Spec-Script 246
23 Ensemble Comedy 249
Sketch This 250
Funny in Film 254
Curtain Up 259
Funny for Two 266
24 Solo Comedy Professionals 269
"Hey, It's Great to Be Here Tonight ..." 269
Hey Mr. DJ! 274
Hereeeeee's Johnny! 274
Specialty Acts 275
25 Adding a Dash of Funny 277
Speech! Speech! 277
From the Dais 280
Cheers! 282
Corporate Comedy Writing 282
Final Thoughts 283
Appendixes
A Glossary 285
B Something to Do Every Day 291
C Where to Go for Help 307
D Annotated Taina Script 311
Index 319
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 4 of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great Reference

    I'm not sure why the cover says "The Cancer Recovery Plan", but don't let that fool you, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Comedy Writing is an invaluable asset to anyone studying comedy. It is laid out in plain English with examples and references to easily identifiable and relevant material. If anyone is interested in writing humor, I would recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2004

    Easy to follow - A good Guide

    This is an extremely easy to follow writing book. It breaks down complex issues in a basic way, and makes even the headiest concepts understandable. I thought it was going to be good. I was surprised to find it was great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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