TOP 9 Essential Books on writing a Comedy

These are the classic and essential books on writing not only for writers, comedians or storytellers, but for everyone who intends to create the inspiring or funny writing.

Poking A Dead Frog

Poking A Dead Frog has great insight about how to write comedy, how to be a TV comedy writer, and of course, lots of funny anecdotes.

You don’t need to be an aspiring comedian or comedy writer to enjoy this book. Anyone who likes to laugh – and especially those who gravitate towards the more satiric and slightly more intelligent forms of comedy will find a lot to like here.

It’s a collection of interviews and advice from a wide variety of comedy writers from the last century or so. You may not click with every interview, but at over 400 pages, there’s plenty here for any comedy fan.

If you are looking into breaking into the comedic world there are some insightful tips and lots of great material. Generally, any writer will love this book.
Get and read -> Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations with Today’s Top Comedy Writers

And Here’s the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers

Even if you’ve never written a kicker, you’ve definitely laughed at one. This book is ridiculously full of useful information about writing. Anyone with an interest in comedy writing can get something from this. The collection of interviews is fascinating. In most of these interviews, you find yourself connecting the humor you enjoyed in tv, shows, magazines, books, movies to actual people.

It is also interesting to look at the differences and similarities between writers from the middle of the 20th century and today.

One of the best books about the creative process you’ve ever read. Highly recommended to anyone interested in working in comedy or understanding the comic mind.
Get and Read -> And Here’s the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers–The New Unexpurgated Version!

Comedy Bible

Written more than ten years ago by Judy Carter, the Comedy Bible has great advice for starting comics on writing a comedy. Comedy styles change, and the blueprint might be aging, but it is invaluable help to a comic who wants to become a stage performer after getting laughs from friends and family. It still works to improve a starting comic’s material.

Carter gives some good advice on how to sit down and bang out jokes, through a relatively simple formula of selecting a topic and exploring it from different emotional angles. She advises on “finding the funny” — that is, that humor comes from truth and shared experience, not from forcing a punch line.

Comedy Bible is useful and really detailed. It guided step-by-step on how to do stand up and how to do screenplays. This book is invaluable for anyone wanting to understand the process of putting together a routine.
Get and Learn ->The Comedy Bible: From Stand-up to Sitcom

Comedy Writing Secrets

Comedy Writing Secrets is a comprehensive guide to comedy. You will find plenty of humor techniques and ground covered in this book. The book is full of practical techniques to help you get better at various elements of comedic writing — word play, puns, the structure of the joke, and so much more. It helps you identify jokes that work better written versus spoken and vice versa, as well as how the order of your words can affect the punchline.

Reading this you can learn about the structure and how it works. A very practical approach to making comedy writing something that everyone could experience some success!
Get and Learn -> Comedy Writing Secrets: The Best-Selling Guide to Writing Funny and Getting Paid for It

Step by Step to Stand-Up Comedy

Step by Step to Stand-Up Comedy by Greg Dean is one of the best stand-up comedy “know how”.  It learns you concrete steps to follow in order to write jokes. It’s very practical and helpful with a lot of examples and diagrams. You don’t have to wait around for inspiration. With these steps you can start writing at any time.

Greg Dean’s “Stand-up Comedy” is just as entertaining as it is informative. A must-have for those interested and wanting to explore the discipline of stand-up comedy.

Amazing blueprint for creating comedic moments not only for beginning comedian but for any writers or public speakers. Greg Dean knows what he’s doing and is motivated by a love and joy and turning people onto comedy and developing their comedic voices.
Read and Learn -> Step by Step to Stand-Up Comedy – Amazing Guide!

 The Complete Idiots Guide to Writing Comedy

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.

This book is tremendously helpful because it articulates the logical framework underneath comedy. There is so much useful info as well as thought provoking exercises. It leaves out the performance aspect of what you’ll need for the stage, but the writing emphasis of this book is something all new stand-ups should internalize.
Get and Learn ->The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Comedy Writing

Comedy at the Edge

Comedy at the Edge by Richard Zoglin is a fantastic comprehensive and concise history of stand-up comedy during the late 1960 through the 1970s, from the death of Lenny Bruce to the ascendance of stand-up into the mainstream of American popular culture. It’s well researched and compellingly presented.

Outstanding portrait of a comedic period showing how many people think, react, and deal with social change through comedy. It is a really good read and will probably inspire you to give comedy a shot. Not to mention, some of the best comedians of all time give out little tidbits, so you’ll learn something on writing a comedy piece. If you consider yourself any sort of fan of comedy, this book is essential.
Get and Read -> Comedy at the Edge: How Stand-up in the 1970s Changed America

Show Me the Funny!: At the Writers’ Table with Hollywood’s Top Comedy Writers

It is a highly enjoyable book filled with fun jokes and great advice that simply stays with you. Author interviews 28 comedy writers and gives the same loosely structured comedic premise and asks to develop it in any way he or she wanted-no rules, no boundaries, no limits! Each comedian brings their own life experience and point-of-view to the table. The result is a hilarious and illuminating look at the comic process.

Great advice from some of the great creative minds. This book is the best workshop and lessons about the creative process. Exceptional information within the text and in the glossary at the end of the book.

Show me the funny is not just for writers or aspiring writers. It’s for everyone. It is a truly important book on many levels. You will get hooked on this book.
Get and Read -> Show Me the Funny!: At the Writers’ Table with Hollywood’s Top Comedy Writers

Born Standing Up

Born Standing up by Steve Martin is not really a book on writing stand-up but Steve’s autobiography Born Standing Up is very inspirational.

Martin illuminates the sacrifice, discipline, and originality that made him an icon and informs his work to this day. To be this good, to perform so frequently, was isolating and lonely. It took Martin decades to reconnect with his parents and sister, and he tells that story with great tenderness. Martin also paints a portrait of his times-the era of free love and protests against the war in Vietnam, the heady irreverence of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in the late sixties, and the transformative new voice of Saturday Night Live in the seventies.

Born Standing Up is one of the best autobiographies. It’s a treasure trove of information for anyone who was old fan of his from those years, as well as any aspiring stage performer who wants to understand more about how one hones one’s craft over time. It comes highly recommended today.
Get and Enjoy reading -> Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life


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