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Comic Insights: The Art of Stand-Up Comedy, by Franklyn Ajaye
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Designed for anyone who wants to build a stand-up comedy career, this book includes advice and information on all aspects of stand-up and also features a large section of interviews with a number of top comedians, including: Louie Anderson, Roseanne, George Wallace and Paul Reiser.
- Sales Rank: #391884 in Books
- Model: 1848134
- Published on: 2001-09-01
- Original language: English
- Number of items: 1
- Dimensions: 8.99″ h x .82″ w x 6.06″ l, 1.11 pounds
- Binding: Paperback
- 280 pages
About the Author
Ajaye is an Emmy-nominated writer-producer-actor. A noted stand-up comedian, he has worked from small clubs to Las Vegas hotels. He also has two comedy recordings on A&M Records. He lectures on stand-up comedy and sitcom writing at UCLA and other venues.
Most helpful customer reviews
47 of 49 people found the following review helpful.
A CLASSIC for those who love, do or want to do comedy
By Joel L. Gandelman
According to author Franklyn Ajaye, he was partly inspired in his successful comedy, writing and producing careers by Larry Wilde’s Great Comedians Talk About Comedy, a 1968 question & answer style interview book, reprinted in 2000 (available on Amazon.com). Wilde’s book contains insightful interviews with late 20th century top comedians and Ajaye hoped his own Comic Insights would be along the same lines.
In fact, Comic Insights, a book containing interviews with some of the early 21st century’s comic geniuses, is as good as or even better than Wilde’s wonderful and still timely book.
The reason: Comic Insights contains not only great interviews but also specific and concise advice on standup comedy performance technique — complete with easy-to-review notes at the end of key chapters. It’s one of the best books ever published on the subject.
Comic Insights is required reading for ANYONE remotely or seriously interested in performing comedy, key comedy techniques, the comedian’s mind-set, goal-setting,
perseverance, the need to be YOU onstage and — a crucial subject incredibly ignored in most comedy books …TIMING. Hopefully it’ll be reprinted periodically, like Wilde’s
book. If it isn’t and you don’t have a copy then you’ll be out of luck because you’ll be missing a vital potential comedy tool.
This book was so fascinating, easy to read, and had so much good information, facts, performing tips and inspiration that I virtually defaced it with my colored-marker underlinings and little notes written in ink. Any second the Book Police will (rightfully) arrest me …..
The first section is one of the most readable explanations of key standup tricks of the trade ever written. If an aspiring comedian uses some of these principles it could save him years of bombing. Ajaye also includes helpful review notes at the end of each of these sections.
There are far too many superb tips to list here, but a few include studying WHY top comedians are funny; studying the use of timing, body language and visual effects. The importance of recording and analyzing your act. And, critically, the importance of being yourself in performance and act content: “The hacks can steal your joke but they can’t steal the way you look at life,” he writes.
Peppered throughout are the BEST written explanations (from him and other comedians) on timing EVER published. He points to the famous (and sadly not re-run) eternal master of timing Jack Benny and notes that timing is a way to “light the fuse” on a
joke, by taking a pause to deliver a punchline. Don’t “be afraid of silent moments,” he advises, and wait until a laugh naturally subsides before moving to another joke.
The second section includes a wide range of the 21st century’s top laugh-makers (again too many to cite here). Some key highlights include:
—LOUIE ANDERSON, a master of setting up routines, using his eyes, space and silence, inspired by Jack Benny. Anderson says: “The secret behind timing is to hold whatever you’re going to say until you absolutely have to say it.”
–ELAYNE BOOSLER on the importance of taping an act, listening to it, analyzing it and enhancing it..
–GEORGE CARLIN’S great explanation of how evolved from a jacket-and-tie comediandoing stock, standard jokes in front of people who he realized where his parents’ friends into a comedy icon for his own and younger generations by changing his jokes, dress
(getting fired for it) his attitude — and the way many comedians forever would do comedy.
–ELLEN DEGENERES & PAUL REISNER: The slowing down joke delivery.
–JAY LENO: The importance of learning jokes (he has no joke file) and goal setting (you should be able to make standup within 7 years work).
–CHRIS ROCK: On the importance of writing NEW jokes to take any comedy career to the next level.
–ROSEANNE & JERRY SEINFELD: The importance being disciplined to constantly write down ideas (on anything even napkins), jokes, concepts and then sit down and translate those ideas into actual performable material.
–GARY SHANDLING: Persistance. He bombed for 5 years but never gave up.
The third section is especially useful since managers, club owners and agents tell what they seek in a comedian. Talent Agent Irv Arthur, among other things, notes the importance of total preparation to be ready for the big break when it comes.
This superb book, especially if read together with Greg Dean’s wonderful Step By Stepto Standup Comedy (also available on Amazon), could save aspiring comedians years of frustration and tears….and it tips off civilians to what’s really lurking behind the curtain of that comedy wizard of the Oz called “the comedy club.”
0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
Franklyn Ajaye “Kills It” With Comic Insights!
By Aaron Koral
Mr. Ajaye has written a wonderful book on how to be a successful stand up comedian. The book is not a how-to on writing jokes or monologues. Rather, the book is an insightful look into the process of becoming a successful comedian. Mr. Ajaye then proceeds to get interviews with some of the greatest stand up comedians in the last 25 years such as Ellen DeGeneres, Jerry Seinfeld, and the late, great Garry Shandling. They share their insights into what made them successful, and how you can apply their tips to be a great comedian in your own right. The interviews alone are worth the price of the book! Even if you’re not a practicing stand-up, the book is a wonderful look into one of the most difficult but rewarding mediums in entertainment today. Thank you, Mr. Ajaye – you killed with this book! Bravo!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful.
Inside Information on the Most Demanding Art Form.
As someone who loves comedy but would never dream of taking the stage myself, I found Franklyn’s book fascinating. Going to comedy clubs has been a hobby of mine for twenty years. Everyone loves the headliners, but I also follow aspiring comics who are trying to learn the incredibly difficult skill of making people laugh consistently.
My main attraction to this book was the quality of the people interviewed. Several are icons in the entertainment world. I also bought the book because I remember Franklyn’s stand-up days and saw him perform live a few times.
The book begins with an instructional section. This isn’t what I bought the book for, but I found it much more entertaining than I thought. Franklyn uses his own careeer as a format to provide the instruction. He was a failing law student looking for another way to earn a living. He talks about how he developed his writing style, managing his material, dealing with stage fright as well as hecklers. This section reads like a story rather than a dry, how-to manual. I realy felt the drama involved with trying to succeed in a business where so many fail.
The interviews are very good. After reading the first part of the book, I already had new insight into the art of stand-up. The interviews covered the topics that had been introduced previously. They work well because the interviewer is a veteran comedian himself and because he has known many of the interviewees for many years. I particularly enjoyed the interviews with George Carlin, Elaine Boosler, Richard Lewis, Sinbad and George Wallace. In many of the interviews you get a sense of how they worked their way up from nowhere to become successful. I was very impressed at the amount of work that goes into putting together an act.
This is undoubtedly a must-read for an aspiring comedian. But for someone like myself, who will never have the courage to take to the stage, it is a chance to get to know several great comedians who I have enjoyed and admired for years.
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