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    Go ahead, make me laugh!Go ahead, make me laugh!Go ahead, make me laugh!Go ahead, make me laugh! Comedy WrComedy WrComedy WrComedy Writingitingitingiting

    published bypublished bypublished bypublished byhttp://www.FreelanceWriting.com

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    This e-book has been written to provide information about self-improvement. Every effort has been made to make this ebook as complete

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    For more FREE e-books on freelancing, visit


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    Published by http://www.FreelanceWriting.com3333

    Table of ContentsPerformer or Writer - What Do You Want to Be? ......................................... 4Benefits of Testing Jokes with a Friend ......................................................... 5Learn the Basic Structure of Jokes ................................................................. 6How to Turn Your Ideas Into Comedy ........................................................... 8How to Find Material in Everyday Life ......................................................... 9Are You Cut Out for the Life of a Comedian? ............................................. 11What is Your Comedic Style? ...................................................................... 12Are You Funny Enough? .............................................................................. 14Where to Start Your Trip to Becoming a Comedian .................................... 15How to Get Your Sitcom Script Read .......................................................... 17Tips for Writing Sitcoms .............................................................................. 18Benefits of Reviewing and Editing Your Work ........................................... 20How to Land a Gig ........................................................................................ 21How to Get Discovered ................................................................................. 23Tips for Structuring Your Routine ................................................................ 24Comedy Teams - How to Work with a Partner ............................................ 26Top Comedians You Can Learn From .......................................................... 27Popular Clubs for Comedians to Join ........................................................... 29Do You Need a Comedian's Agent? ............................................................. 30How to Turn Real Life into Sitcom Scenarios ............................................. 32Why Comedians Need a Contract ................................................................. 33How to Pick the Right Audience for Your Comedy ..................................... 35Tips for Using Humor in Motivational Speeches ......................................... 36Tips for Writing Comedic Articles and Essays ............................................ 38How to Perform Improv Comedy ................................................................. 39

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    Chapter 1:

    Performer or Writer - What Do You Want to Be?

    The performer gets a thrill out of being on stage and delivering his lines so that

    everyone laughs. The writer may prefer to take time to get those funny lines just

    right. He may even perform them in his head, but he prefers to stay out of thelimelight and watch someone else deliver the lines. So which would you rather do?

    The performer needs to be an outgoing person

    who wants to make people laugh. Some people

    have this gift naturally. They are the ones who

    are surrounded by a crowd of friends and are

    delighted to tell jokes and make their friends

    laugh. But if you are not like this, don't despair.

    Sometimes it's the quiet ones who shine

    onstage. They find that another part of their

    personality seems to step forward and take over

    in a way they just don't feel comfortable doing in

    real life.

    A writer of humor is likely to be a person who

    would just hate to have everyone looking at him on the stage. It would be his worst

    nightmare. He likes to write when the idea hits and not be confined to a time-slot offive minutes at 9pm or earlier for his delivery. He may or may not love to tell funny

    jokes to his many (or few) friends, but he does love to write them. He sees humor in

    every situation - even when the cat throws up on the new clothing on Christmas day.

    The performer may not have a single humorous thought - ever. But he may be

    absolutely brilliant at performing someone else's humorous writing. He has an

    expressive face or expression that makes people laugh even if he only says one word.

    Or he may be the master of the straight face. He may be able to deliver his routine

    without any expression on his face at all and have people rolling in the aisles with

    laughter. He has that gift that when he walks onstage people start to laugh. He could

    read out a menu and make it seem funny.

    So which one do you want to be? Or perhaps, more to the point, which one areyou?

    The skills for each are sometimes inherent - either you have them or you don't.

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    Friends are usually not going to try and save your feelings from being hurt. They will

    be honest and tell you if your joke doesn't work. Anyway, you'll be able to tell

    yourself, because they won't laugh if it's not funny.

    On the other hand, your joke may be funny, but your friend might be in a bad mood,

    so pick your time for testing out jokes. If something makes you laugh when you write

    it, chances are that someone else will find it funny too. If your first friend doesn'tlaugh, try it out on a couple of others. People sometimes have different types of

    humor and what tickles one won't affect another.

    To test a joke out with your friend may save you from a great deal of embarrassment

    - from bombing out in your routine - and thus help you on your way to becoming a


    Chapter 2:

    Learn the Basic Structure of Jokes

    Different types of jokes have

    different structure. The stand-up

    comic tells jokes that are brief and

    to the point. Often they only have

    two or three lines, commonlycalled the set-up and the punch

    line. The set up is what makes the

    audience think the way you want

    them to think, while the punch

    line provides the twist or surprise

    ending, contrasting to what was

    used in the set-up.

    These jokes work because they deliberately change the meaning of the set-up to be

    something quite different than what was expected. The set-up should take something

    like 20 or 30 seconds to deliver, while the punch line should be even less. Often the

    punch line can have one major word in it upon which the whole sentence hangs, so

    in this case it should come last.

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    Chapter 3:

    How to Turn Your Ideas Into Comedy

    Once you have an idea, how can you turn it into comedy? One way is by the use of

    exaggeration. Once you start making the end results morethan they would

    normally be, the result is frequently humorous. Or it could be that the effortexpended by your character is out of proportion to

    the end result - or perhaps the end result is not

    what he expected.

    This can be seen in the Roadrunner cartoons where

    the 'baddy' tries with great effort to do the

    roadrunner in but his plans usually backfire onto


    The use of literary devices is also an aid to writing

    comedy. You can make use ofambiguitywhere

    there is unclear or double meaning to a word or

    phrase.Alliterationalso creates a comic touch to

    the sound of your comedy. Euphemismcan also

    be used to lighten a serious subject such as death.

    This can be referred to as 'kicking the bucket' or

    some of the other phrases we sometimes adopt for death and dying, while 'doinghim' in is how murder is often referred to in comedy.

    Your ideas really need to be funny to start with and then using the above devices can

    strengthen the humor in them. If your ideas are not funny - if they don't make you

    laugh when you write them - then you must ask if they will make anyone else laugh.

    If not, revise.

    Some writers start at the ending and work backwards. If you have a funny ending in

    your mind, you can write the second last line, then the last line, then go backwards

    from there in creating how this funny situation came about. You should never have

    too many characters in your comedic writing. You are not writing a novel. Two or

    three for each scene should be sufficient.

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    it is natural to gather the eggs. All this is quite normal - so far. But take it a step

    further and find only one egg. Then try and carry the egg back and push the

    wheelbarrow as well. It can't be done, so you put the egg in the wheelbarrow. Then

    someone comes along and sees you pushing a wheelbarrow with one egg in it. The

    punch line could be any number of weird and wonderful comments.

    It helps if you have a sense of the absurd and/or hang out with others who do. Somepeople find something to laugh at in every situation. If you have little children, your

    life should abound in humorous situations and comments. Children get the names of

    things wrong, or they get the pronunciations wrong, and it can all add up to great

    hilarity in the family. With a bit of exaggeration, or a twist here and there, you can

    write it into a comedy script.

    Humor can spring out at you while just sitting in the mall, watching the crowds stroll

    by. You might see a young man waiting for his love (or his mum) in front of the

    jeweler's window. Nothing funny in that, unless the store is also advertising earrings -

    as hot studs.

    There are countless situations that you can make funny once you start to look out for

    them. At least when you write your own material you can't be accused of stealing

    someone else's work.

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    Published by http://www.FreelanceWriting.com11111111

    Chapter 5:

    Are You Cut Out for the Life of a Comedian?

    The life of a comedian is not necessarily easy.

    While those on the outside of the industry see

    someone on stage that makes them laugh,

    there is much more to it than that. You need

    to practice all the time to get your routine

    down to a fine art. Then, since most

    entertainment occurs at night, you have to

    stay up half the night to entertain your

    audience. If you are a night owl, then you

    won't find this a problem, but if you're a lark -

    a person who wakens early in the morning, then it could pose a problem.

    And there will be rejection, especially when you first start out. Very often audiences

    get drunk as the night wears on and then they may start to heckle you. Be prepared

    for a few rotten eggs or tomatoes. It may not come to that these days; more likely it

    will be boos, jeers and catcalls. The only thing to do is treat the hecklers with even

    more humor. If nothing works, then retire gracefully rather than getting angry whichwill do no good at all.

    Traveling is another thing that most comedians must do to both further their careers

    and get gigs. If you don't have a lot of different routines, you can hardly expect to

    play at the same pub every night. So you'll be traveling all over your home city and

    then maybe to other cities. This will mean uprooting the family - if you have one. Or -

    more often - leaving them behind

    Many comedians tour the country doing gigs booked by their agent, if they have one.

    They are apart from their families, and they have to pay for accommodations and

    food whether they are successful or not. Even if the club they play at puts them up,

    there is still the cost of travel and food.

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    Another problem may be the times of the week that entertainment usually occurs.

    That is, on the weekends. That's when most workers have the time off, but you'll

    have to work. This could be hard for your family and if you have children, you'll miss

    being with them over the weekend, when they are free from school pressures.

    And when the school puts on presentation nights or concerts in the night, you won't

    be able to attend them - a great disappointment to your children. So being acomedian is not all roses; you work very hard, travel a lot and get not much sleep.

    You'll surely be doing it all for the love of it, rather than any other reason.

    Chapter 6:

    What is Your Comedic Style?

    Comedy comes in several basic styles and each comedian usually concentrates on the

    particular style that suits them. That is not to say they can't or don't dabble in the

    other styles, but sometimes a particular style is so suited to a comedian - and they

    get so used to it, that they prefer not to change. Also, their audience expects a

    certain style of humor and would be disappointed if they changed.

    Black comedytakes the naturally tragic or

    serious circumstances of life and makes jokes

    of them. While some people find thisdistasteful or upsetting, others find that it

    uplifts them to be able to laugh about a

    situation that would otherwise have them


    If you feel like poking fun at the establishment

    and ridiculing figures of authority, then satire

    is more your style of comedy. But satire does

    more than just make fun of politicians; it is usually a way of disagreeing with a

    political view and offering another one.

    Parodyworks well with many writers and comedians. This is when they mimic

    another person, usually exaggerating them or their manner to the point of ridicule.

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    Chapter 7:

    Are You Funny Enough?

    Just how funny are you? There are plenty of people out there who think they are

    funny, but they suck. Then there are people who really are funny - apart from their

    work as a comedian. They are constantly joking around and playing gags on others.Laughing and making others laugh is their normal,

    everyday life.

    There are also people who are really funny onstage,

    but in their private lives they don't crack jokes and

    raise laughs every minute. In fact, they may be

    serious people - some are even shy, quiet people

    you would never dream of being comedians. Others

    are funny all the time, whether they are on the

    stage or off it. They realized that they had an innate

    ability to crack people up and they love doing it. Still

    others are really funny people, but they are not

    comedians and don't aspire to be on the stage at all.

    But all successful comedians have one thing in common. On the stage, they can

    make people laugh. Some only have to walk onto the stage and people start to laugh

    before they even speak. So do you have what it takes?

    Many comedians start out writing their own material, but if they just can't see the

    funny side of things this may not be a good idea. A comedian might be able to

    present material in a way that makes people laugh, but if the material he or she

    presents is not all that funny, then success will be elusive - or non-existent. Many

    successful comedians depend on good writers for their material.

    So if you really want to be a comedian, yet people don't seem to be impressed, it

    may be that the material is not right for you, or perhaps it is not even all that funny.

    In this case you would be well advised to use material that someone else writes for

    you. If you 'steal' another comedian's material, you could get into trouble.

    The best reason for being a comedian is because you love doing it. If you get into the

    business to make money or become famous, you're likely to be seriously

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    Published by http://www.FreelanceWriting.com15151515

    disappointed. Those things may come to you if you are good - and persevere, but

    don't count on it. If you are fulfilling an ambition and doing what you love to do, then

    it won't matter if they don't come, you'll still be happy.

    Chapter 9:

    Where to Start Your Trip to Becoming a Comedian

    The best place to start your trip into the world of

    comedy is in front of your mirror. Here you can

    practice your jokes and comedy routines until they

    are perfect, with no one to put you down or laugh in

    the wrong places. You can watch yourself perform

    and try out various movements until you are satisfied

    with them - and then perhaps you can ask your

    friends what they think.

    The only trouble with friends are that they don't like

    to be unkind, so unless you know they are honest, take what they say with a grain ofsalt. Performing in front of family and friends is good in that it gives you confidence

    in yourself. You'll know that you can stand up on stage and go through your spiel

    without missing any lines. This knowledge is invaluable for when you do your first

    performance in front of strangers.

    Your first performance might be at a larger family gathering of a birthday party,

    wedding breakfast or some other celebration. Or it could be at the local pub, a

    nightclub or bar, many of which have open mic. nights. Take along a friend or some

    family for support and to videotape your act, and then you can watch it afterwards

    and see how to improve. Don't worry if the audience doesn't laugh much; most of

    them will probably be amateur comedians themselves, waiting for their turn. Since

    they are the competition, they may not be too free with praise and applause.

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    Published by http://www.FreelanceWriting.com19191919

    Sitcoms are really character comedies. That is the 'funny' comes from the characters

    reactions to each other or certain situations. While they are extremely funny, their

    material is not a series of jokes strung together. Since the characters are what makesa sitcom funny, they must be strong characters; interesting and believable as well as

    funny. When you are creating characters like this, you must be able to sustain them -

    keep them going.

    You, the writer, are responsible for the characterization in your writing. It is not the

    actor who does this, but the writer. Remember too that this type of writing is not real

    life, though it may be based on it. That is, your characters may be based on real life

    characters, but yours have to be funny where real life characters are mostly not.

    The characters have to be in sufficient contrast to each other for it to show up and

    create the funny situations. If they both like the same things, there won't be much

    contrast, will there? It's this contrast that causes a great deal of the humor. So you

    must have contrast, but it still has to be believable.

    When writing sitcom, have no more than four central characters. You can have a few

    supporting characters but not too many. While you should know what your characters

    are like and what made them like it, this is their back-story and should not be part ofthe sitcom. Their dialogue and the story should be what describe your characters.

    In short, it is the characters that make the sitcom even more than the story. If you

    can invent new characters, then a story line that's been done before might still work.

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    Chapter 12:

    Benefits of Reviewing and Editing Your Work

    Every writer must review and edit their work and it is no different for a comedian

    who writes his own material. Reviewing your work will take out flaws, tighten it up

    and prevent your audience falling asleep from boredom. Editing will catch anymistakes before you go to air, as it were.

    There should be two parts to your

    reviewing/editing process. Firstly,

    edit the written words, making

    sure the grammar is correct and

    the sequences logical. If your

    jokes are one-liners, ask yourself if

    they are too long or not clear

    enough. Will everyone know what

    you are talking about? What about

    the punch line? Can it be shorter?

    Is the major word right at the


    If they are longer, story-type

    jokes, look at the introduction, theplot and the body, then at the

    ending. Does it all go in logical

    sequence? Can you tighten it up anywhere? Read it out loud to get the flow right.

    When you are satisfied that everything is as good as you can get it, act it out as if

    you were on stage. Sometimes when you need to match words to movements, either

    one could be too long for too short for the other.

    Sometimes when you write your funny stuff, the best way is to just write it as it

    comes and pay no attention to quality. Forget spelling, grammar and everything else

    but just getting that stuff onto the page. Let it sit for a week without looking at it,

    then go back and reread it; if it still makes you laugh (or grin) then start editing it for

    the quality. Tighten it up, rearrange the sequence if you need to and generally make

    it more readable. Work on the punch lines to see if you can shorten them or make

    them stronger.

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    Published by http://www.FreelanceWriting.com21212121

    There are many things you can do to improve your writing. Take out adjectives and

    adverbs. Replace works ending 'ly' with something stronger. Go through it all with a

    fine-tooth comb until it shines.

    For reviewing, you could get others to listen or read it and see if they think it's

    funny. If they don't, ask them why not and get specific reasons. It could be a wrong

    use of language; wording, concept or length - or maybe they just never see the

    funny side of life. Ask someone else. If they say the same thing, throw it out and

    start again. Some things are just not funny.

    Chapter 13:

    How to Land a Gig

    Landing gigs is of prime importance to a

    comedian. Without working gigs, there is no

    job and no chance of getting known. There

    are several ways to get gigs. It's a good idea

    to get an agent who will help you to getbookings (gigs). What you need to do is have

    one or more videos of yourself doing your

    routines. Whether these are taken live -

    while you are doing a real gig - or whether

    you have them done on a false stage, will depend on you.

    If you've never done a gig, then you'll have to fake it till you make it. That is, set up

    a false stage somewhere and go through your routine with someone there to do the

    videotaping. Anyone with a digital camera can record a small segment of your

    routine, then you can burn it to CD and there you have it! Make plenty of copies and

    send them out to various comedy clubs.

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    Published by http://www.FreelanceWriting.com29292929

    Chapter 18:

    Popular Clubs for Comedians to Join

    There are quite a few clubs out there for comedians

    to join. The benefit for a comedian in joining a club

    or several clubs is that he is then available to work

    gigs through the club's connections. As well as

    presenting shows in various venues, the Comedy

    Club makes comedians available for conferences,

    parties, and receptions or other events where the

    addition of a comedian would spice up proceedings

    that would otherwise be slightly dull.

    The Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) is another

    comedy club that not only hosts comedy shows, but

    also runs improv classes, so there is that added benefit for a comedian joining up.

    Classes are run in many time-slots and for many different topics. When comedians

    are known to belong to a well-respected club, they are more likely to be taken

    seriously - even though they really want everyone to laugh.

    The Gotham Club in New York is considered by many to be one of the best. Many

    great comedians have worked at the Gothams; so if you'd like to join the ranks of the

    best - like Roseanne, Dave Chapelle and others, see if you can get a gig on their free

    mic night. As an amateur, you'll get the chance to hone your talent and when you

    start to rise to the top you'll get better gigs.

    While the Gotham is in New York, there is also the Comedy Connection in Boston that

    many consider to be even better than Gotham's. At least it offers its customers

    reserved seating, but of more interest to a comedian is their star line-up of such

    comedian greats as Chris Rock, Rosie O'Donnell, Margaret Cho and many others.

    The House of Comedy at Niagara Falls hosts open mic nights all the time and any

    aspiring comedian needs to get his act on one of them to be recognized. If you want

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    Chapter 20:

    How to Turn Real Life into Sitcom Scenarios

    Frequently, a sitcom is based on real life; either

    a real life person or a real life situation or

    environment. Most inspiration comes from reallife to some extent and sitcoms are no different.

    To turn real life into sitcom scenarios, you need

    to have sense of the absurd and/or a great

    sense of humor. Some people can be caught

    out in a sudden storm and have their umbrella

    blown inside out, a passing car splashes them

    and other disasters happen and they think it's

    funny. Others think it's terrible.

    The way to turn real life into sitcom scenarios is

    often by exaggeration. Start off with what

    actually happened and add to it. Get caught in

    the storm, lose the umbrella - that's fine and normal - then add car splashes, sandal

    breaks, find you've locked yourself out of the car, get a parking ticket miss the last

    bus home.

    Add a specific time to it that may not have been in the original happening. In theabove example it could be Christmas Eve. Or you could be trying to get to your kid's

    school presentation. In this case the scenes would include all the funny, bizarre and

    even dangerous ways in which this was achieved. Then you could find that you'd

    mistaken the date.

    The above demonstrates a twist to the end that people love. So in taking real life

    situations, you have to exaggerate them, add to the action, and change the ending.

    This applies equally to the characters. You can base a sitcom on humorous characters

    by exaggerating one aspect of their personality or character to the point of absurdity.

    Then you put them with another person who is their opposite and make them both

    want different goals, e.g. "George and Mildred." Where Mildred tried to be part of the

    wealthy set, while George didn't care about it. Of course there are many more

    modern sitcoms, but they run in similar vein.

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    Published by http://www.FreelanceWriting.com37373737

    It is poking fun at yourself that makes a connection with the audience. They laugh,

    but at the same time they sympathize because they know just how you felt at the

    time. Chances are they experienced the same thing, and so you are helping them tocope with it in their own lives when you can laugh at it in yours.

    Be sure your humor is appropriate to your audience. Some people may be offended

    rather than amused by jokes that are racist or otherwise in bad taste. Choosing clean

    humor will ensure that it is not offensive to a mixed audience.

    Humor and jokes should be kept short and to the point. While you know the back-

    story, it should not come out in your joke. If you waffle on, your audience will fall

    asleep and you won't be asked to speak again. For instance the story may take place

    in a train. There's no need to explain where the train was going or why you were on

    it. Just tell what happened when you were in that situation.

    Jokes and humor can be incorporated into visual aids such as the leaflets you hand

    out or the overheads you use. It can be a comic strip or video, but whatever it is,

    using the right amount of humor will certainly enhance your speech and make sure

    your audience remains interested.

    Humor can also help you to feel at ease with the rest of your speech. If you can

    appear human - even when you bomb out - and poke a little fun at yourself, you can

    often save the situation. Don't use jokes that are so old that everyone knows them.

    To create something new can be as simple as a wry observation about the building. If

    it's really hot you could say something like, "It's so cold in here, can someone turn up

    the heaters?"

    continued on next page...

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    Chapter 24:

    Tips for Writing Comedic Articles and Essays

    If you just love writing comedic articles and essays, go ahead. People

    love reading comedy. You might find your life full of humor and even

    make money out of writing about it. This often happens when a personis put into a different environment, for instance many humorous

    articles have been written from the point of view of a city person going

    to live in the Wild West - or vice versa. This is actually situational

    comedy as it arises from being in a different situation.

    Or maybe you'd rather make humorous comment about the political

    situation such as we see in satire, or the many other types of comedy

    that abound. Whichever type you choose, stick to it for the same piece

    of writing. If you start off with a family comedy and the switch to slapstick or satire,

    your readers will be confused and end up leaving you.

    Make your type of comedy appropriate to your proposed audience. If you were

    writing something humorous for children, satire or black humor would not be

    appropriate. If your audience were rocket scientists or inventors, family or toilet

    humor would not be appreciated. Writing for radio will not need lots of humorous

    activity, but for TV it will.

    Choosing what makes you laugh will ensure that you enjoy what you are doing and

    this will show in your writing. Conflict is needed for most good writing and it is

    needed for comedy as well. Conflict can come from a person against the

    environment, a person who cannot achieve his goals, i.e. against himself, or a person

    against another person. The humor comes as the person tries his best to achieve his

    goal, or maybe he decides to ignore it - whatever it is.

    Exaggeration is another means of including comedy into your article. While it may not

    always be possible to exaggerate the environment, it is your perception of the

    problem that can be exaggerated for comic effect. However, just be careful not to go

    overboard and become silly.

    Remember the rule of three. For some reason things that happen in threes seem

    funnier than if they happen just once. If you can work this into your humorous article

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  • 7/29/2019 comedy writting