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The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even If…
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The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even If You're Not (edition 1994)

by John Vorhaus

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153278,096 (4.22)None
Member:birchdev
Title:The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even If You're Not
Authors:John Vorhaus
Info:Silman-James Pr (1994), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 191 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Humor

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The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even If You're Not by John Vorhaus

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This little book is jam-packed with tools that will help any and every writer, regardless of genre. With down-to-earth language, and brief explanations, Vorhaus walks you through a series of processes, tools and rules that simplify rather than complicate writing tasks.

From the rule of nine (out of every ten ideas you write, 9 will be useless, so take risks, keep going and don't judge yourself) to the hill climbing problem (when revising your work, merely good is the enemy of great, so get that editing pen dirty).

As he puts it, "That's the trouble with re-writing. You have to commit to sacrifice with no certain expectation of reward. Yet even absent that guarantee, there's one thing we know for sure: If we don't come down off the hill, we'll never reach the mountain."

His explanation of plot structure is a 9-point list:

  • * Who is the hero?

  • * What does the hero want?

  • * The door opens

  • * Hero takes control

  • * A monkey wrench is thrown

  • * Things fall apart

  • * Hero hits bottoms

  • * Hero risks all

  • * What does the hero get?


  • If you include all of these points in your story (as he explains one by one), then it will work as any kind of story. This list parallels and expands slightly on the 3-act structure of commercial feature films (inciting incident, Climax 1, 2, 3). The only thing I'd add to his list is that when the door opens, the character walks through it. Because until the character acts in a way that reveals character, the story engine doesn't get in gear.

    What's really useful about a tool like this is you can fit the answers to the questions on a single page, so it serves as your pencil sketch, thinking tool, your briefest of outlines, to help you manage the narrative arc of your story. Great stuff.

    Since it's a comic toolbox, it covers the comic premise, comic story types, joke types, situation comedy, sketch comedy and more using oodles of easy to understand examples. After introducing each simple tool he encourages you to try them out.

    The only thing I don't like about this book is its title and sub-title, The Comic Toolbox: How to be funny even if you're not.

    Although the emphasis in this book is comedic, the application of his lessons go so much wider. From his advice on why you need to re-write, how to re-write, how to kill your inner editor and resuscitate them when you need them, this book isn't just about how to be funny, it's about how to write.

    Given this, I'd re-title the book, The Writer's Toolbox: From a funny perspective. ( )
      colleesu | Jun 13, 2016 |
    This was a great little book with lots of unexpected bonus cool things. However, my personal opinion is that if you try too hard to be funny by applying tools, it will most likely come out unfunny. Even still, this book was awesome for helping you understand why funny things are funny, and whenever a hilarious moment came up during my time reading this book, I was able to analyze it and determine what made that so funny. I think in that alone you can study humor and the more you study and practice it in writing or whatever, the better you get. The most important piece of advice: take a risk, don't be afraid. I loved his Rule of Nine, which says "For every ten jokes you tell, nine will be trash. For every ten ideas you have, nine won't work. For every ten times you risk, nine times you fail." If you lower your expectations, you gain confidence. ( )
      KR_Patterson | Apr 28, 2015 |
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