The Hidden Tools of Comedy: The Serious Business of Being Funny

The Hidden Tools of Comedy: The Serious Business of Being Funny

by Steve Kaplan


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While other books give you tips on how to “write funny,” this book offers a paradigm shift in understanding the mechanics and art of comedy, and the proven, practical tools that help writers translate that understanding into successful, commercial scripts. The Hidden Tools of Comedy unlocks the unique secrets and techniques of writing comedy. Kaplan deconstructs sequences in popular films and TV that work and don’t work, and explains what tools were used (or should have been used).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781615931408
Publisher: Wiese, Michael Productions
Publication date: 07/01/2013
Pages: 280
Sales rank: 467,172
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

For more than a decade, Steve Kaplan has been the industry’s most sought-after expert on comedy writing and production. In addition to having taught at UCLA, NYU, Yale, and other top universities, Kaplan created the HBO Workspace, the HBO New Writers Program, and was co-founder and Artistic Director of Manhattan’s Punch Line Theatre. He has served as a consultant to such companies as DreamWorks, Disney, Aardman Animation, HBO, and has worked with producers and production companies in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, London, Ireland, and Sweden.

Read an Excerpt

Many of the things people claim to know about comedy are, in fact, myths. We’ve all heard those myths:
“The letter K is funny.”
“Comedy comes in threes.”
“Comedy is exaggeration.”
“Comedy is mechanical.”
“Comedy is about feeling superior to other people.”
“You have to be born funny.”
“If you try to explain the joke, you’ll kill it.”
“Either you’re funny, or you’re not.”
And, of course, the one thing that everyone knows about comedy:
“You can’t teach comedy.”
YOU HAVE TO BE BORN FUNNY How are you born funny? I don’t think there’s many OBN/GYN’s who have had the experience of delivering a baby, slapping it on its behind, only to have the baby turn around and say, “Hey, how you doing? Anybody here from out of the O.R.? Hey, a funny thing happened to me on the way out of the fallopian tubes!”
Somewhere between being the doctor slapping you on the butt and the Grim Reaper slapping you into a coffin, funny people somehow learn to be funny. How do they learn it?

Table of Contents

PART I:     Understanding Comedy
Chapter 1: The Myths of Comedy
Chapter 2: A Comedy Perception Test
Chapter 3: The Theory of Comedy  
Chapter 4: The Comic Equation
Chapter 5: Introducing the Tools

PART II: The HiddenTools of Comedy
Chapter 6: Tool #1 – Winning
Chapter 7: Tool #2 – The Non-Hero
Chapter 8: Tool #3 –  Metaphorical Relationships
Chapter 9: Tool #4 – Positive (ly Selfish) Action
Chapter 10: Tool #5 – Active Emotion
Chapter 11: Tool #6 – Straight Line/Wavy Line

PART III: The Non-Hero’s Journey
Chapter 12: The 3,000-Year History of Comedy (in 15 minutes)
Chapter 13: Tool #7– Archetype Casting
Chapter 14: Tool #8 –The Comic Premise
Chapter 15: Non-Hero’s Journey

PART IV: Nuts & Bolts
Chapter 16: Take These Jokes, Please!
Chapter 17: Get Me Re-Write
Chapter 18: What I Really Want To Do Is Direct! and Act!
Chapter 19: “You’re a Producer; Come Up With Something!”
Chapter 20: 20 Great Comic Films and Sitcoms
Chapter 21: When Comedy Goes Bad: What to Avoid

PART V: The Punchline
Chapter 22: OK, I’ve Saved a Cat; Now What?
Chapter 23: Comedy FAQ
Chapter 24: Additional Resources or Who to Steal From (but please, always call it homage!)

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