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u/comedyroutine · 1 pointr/StandUpComedy

This question has a lot of complex parts to it. Mainly because we as a species don't know why exactly we laugh.

"Because something is funny."

Yeah, I get it. However, laughing in and of itself does not mean something is funny. There are different forms of laughter. Such as when tension from a scary situation occurs or maniacal laughter from an evil villain. These are some cases where laughter doesn't mean something is funny, but it still occurs. There are a few books written on the topic (my top two would be Ha!: The Science of When We Laugh and Why by Scott Weems and Laughter: A Scientific Investigation by Robert R. Provine.)

Some have speculated that laughter is a very primitive sign that lets others around us know that every is all clear. Which makes sense when a comic builds tension and then releases that tension with a punchline. But it doesn't make sense when we laugh at the misfortune of others, or why we laugh at someone else who is laughing, or why a comedian can do the same joke over and over and get different variants of laughter every time he/she does it.

Anyway, I laugh out loud on some comedians just because they are so fun to watch, but since starting stand-up (4.5 years ago) it has become less frequent to do so when I am alone because I'm not only watching for entertainment value but to study. Their writing, their performance, their hair style, their clothing, the lighting, the stage, their emotions, their facial expression. There is so much to learn from any given special that I sometimes lose the humor when I'm alone because I'm thinking about so many other things.

tl;dr We don't know why we laugh. Read "Laughter" by Robert R. Provine and "HA!" by Scott Weems. I do laugh out loud when watching/listening to stand up alone, but less now that I am a comic.

u/Chakosa · 1 pointr/StandUpComedy

From a science-y point of view, I'm reading a book about this now. From the description:

>Some things are funny -- jokes, puns, sitcoms, Charlie Chaplin, The Far Side, Malvolio with his yellow garters crossed -- but why? Why does humor exist in the first place? Why do we spend so much of our time passing on amusing anecdotes, making wisecracks, watching The Simpsons? In Inside Jokes, Matthew Hurley, Daniel Dennett, and Reginald Adams offer an evolutionary and cognitive perspective. Humor, they propose, evolved out of a computational problem that arose when our long-ago ancestors were furnished with open-ended thinking. Mother Nature -- aka natural selection -- cannot just order the brain to find and fix all our time-pressured misleaps and near-misses. She has to bribe the brain with pleasure. So we find them funny. This wired-in source of pleasure has been tickled relentlessly by humorists over the centuries, and we have become addicted to the endogenous mind candy that is humor.

Essentially, non-obvious information makes something funny, whether that be a non sequitur or a clever pun or an unexpected turn in a story.

u/BryanTriesComedy · 1 pointr/StandUpComedy

Anthony Jeselnick actually took Greg Dean's comedy classes and is one of the more popular students from that school. This school of comedy teaches you how to write that style of one liners, the delivery and dark humor of Jeselnick is just his personality.

If you are interested you can read Gregg Dean's book, i highly recommend it if you are starting out or want a good book on comedy.

u/coohhwip · 1 pointr/StandUpComedy

Despite your warning I listened to the revisionist history episode about this called Hallelujah. Loved it!! Saving up to buy the original book it was based on. This makes so much sense for comics. To me someone like Burnham or Sloss = Cezanne & Louie or Burr = Picasso.

I agree good doesn’t equal successful but regardless of the talent the 4 years rule seems to hold steady. I should have specified - I’m talking about the big guns. The people who make it huge. The ones on my original list. Those types usually break in 4 or under.

u/[deleted] · 2 pointsr/StandUpComedy

The Comedy Bible is super cheesy. Very oldschool, setup-punchline approach. Picture a guy making fun of a hack comic, and that's the sort of stuff in the book.

I got Teach Yourself Stand-Up; it was better. Some good exercises in there to get you started. But I agree with gunnarrambo's comment. Look first and see what clicks based on your approach.

u/imsorekt · 2 pointsr/StandUpComedy

Greg Dean's "Step by Step" is a good, short introduction to mostly just the basic formulas of joke writing with not a lot of bullshit about "what makes a good comedian". Once you learn the basic setup/punch formula and the handful of different additions to that (tag, callback etc.) the real secret is just to write 10,000 jokes until you write a really funny one... Then write 10,000 more. It's time, repetition and getting on stage that does the magic after you learn the basics.

Link because if you're a comedian there's a good chance you're also really fucking lazy:

u/DietJay · 3 pointsr/StandUpComedy

Comedy Writing Secrets is definitely a good book to read to learn about joke mechanics and stuff. I also recommend Zen and the Art of Stand-Up Comedy.

u/markovich04 · 3 pointsr/StandUpComedy

'If You Prefer a Milder Comedian Please Ask For One'

How I Escaped My Certain Fate

I think it was Richard Herring, on one of his podcasts, talking about how Stewart Lee wanted to write a book that couldn't be read on a Kindle because of all the footnotes. It's funny, because footnotes work very well on a Kindle.

u/admiral_bringdown · 15 pointsr/StandUpComedy

It looks like a fictionalized take on the 2010 book I'm Dying Up Here which is a sorta-biography of the origins of The Comedy Store. It's an amazing read.

u/mts87 · 2 pointsr/StandUpComedy

I used Comedy Writing Secrets

I was very happy to find this when I first started out. I think it teaches some very good skills and techniques.

u/eaglepowers · 1 pointr/StandUpComedy

Gary Gulman's 2012 special is on Prime (newer ones are on Netflix):

Gulman's Conan set on "State Abbreviations" is a six-minute masterpiece:

u/CatShirtComedy · 2 pointsr/StandUpComedy

There is a "Stand up comedy bible" that's a bit outdated. The first few chapters are okay though.

This book for late night writing also has some pretty decent bits of info.

u/angelpuff · 1 pointr/StandUpComedy

When I was in high school I read in a comedy writing book that said comedians should wait until they are famous to get personal because then people will know who they are. Which I think is really dumb.

I love Bill Burrs and Louis ck old stuff, but now-a-days with 80 percent personal, their material really sticks with me and resonates on a much deeper level.

Said comedy book:

u/LordAntoine · 2 pointsr/StandUpComedy

Jimmy Carr has co-written a couple of fantastic books which do exactly that. He analyses the history of jokes, where they came from, how they work structurally etc

Only Joking

The Naked Jape

u/Exoslovakia · 3 pointsr/StandUpComedy


Hard pass.

For an actual comedian's perspective check out Stewart Lee. He's extremely self-aware and clever. Even wrote a book on analyzing comedy.

u/ZombieHeyHeyHeyHeyOh · 1 pointr/StandUpComedy

You can write sitcom specs and then move to LA and get a manager and he tries to get you a job. I recommend this book if you're interested:

u/QuickPhix · 7 pointsr/StandUpComedy

I'm Dying Up Here is a great book about the start of the stand up club industry, specifically the LA scene.

u/JohnnyConatus · 1 pointr/StandUpComedy

If you like this checkout his book that fully explains how he builds his sets and his career.

TL;DR - he found his niche and he owned it rather than trying to play to everyone.

u/juliantheguy · 1 pointr/StandUpComedy

For stand up, Zen and the Art of Stand Up Comedy was a pretty simple approach to joke writing and what you’re sort of aiming to do. Easy read, structured but not rigid

u/Max_Powers42 · 14 pointsr/StandUpComedy

Heard about this one called The Comedians on the Dana Gould Hour podcast and he spoke highly of it, but I haven't read it yet.

u/DrKluge · 1 pointr/StandUpComedy

Poking A Dead Frog

Instead of being a step by step guide on how to write comedy, which in my opinion is a terrible way to write, it's mainly conversations with some of the top comedy writers along with a couple extra tidbits ( Bill Hader's 200 essential comedy movies to watch)