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The Ten Commandments of Comedy

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The Ten Commandments of Comedy

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The Ten Commandments of Comedy
By Gene Perret
Foreword by Terry Fator
Quill Driver Books, Fresno: 2013
ISBN: 978-1-610351-25-6

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - May 13, 2013

Are you just starting out as a comedy writer and want to learn the fundamentals of joke writing? Perhaps you are a comedian who is having trouble connecting with your audience? Are you nervous about giving a speech at the local Rotary and want to liven it up with a joke? To find well-honed advice and help with all theses problems and more, check out The Ten Commandments of Comedy . . .

Can comedy writing and comedy performance be distilled down to ten simple rules? Will learning, and following these rules, ensure that every joke you write or deliver results in laughter? According to Gene Perret it really is that simple. In his new book The Ten Commandments of Comedy Perret, in Moses like fashion, delivers his ten commandments of comedy to the world. Follow these commandments, and your jokes are sure to deliver.

Perret, the author of The New Comedy Writing Step by Step, contends that comedy is like science or any other field of endeavor. There are certain laws that are fundamental to each field of study, and that you need to follow these laws if you want the 'thing' you are working on to work. (This is a very rough summation os Perret's teachings!) In his book The Ten Commandments of Comedy, Perret clearly explains what the laws of comedy are, and why following these laws will not stifle your creativity, rather it will give you the freedom to be the best joke writer or comedian you can be. He also explains how to incorporate these rules into your comedy writing and comedy routines.

This is short and pithy book that has ten chapters, one for each commandment. They run the gamut from "Thou Shalt Be Truthful" and "Thou Shalt be Current" to "Thou Shalt Remember the Audience." Each chapter includes an explanation of each rule, including why it works. Each chapter will also show you how to incorporate the various rules into your writing and delivery. Most important, each chapter also provides examples of each rule in action, by examining jokes delivered by a host of well-known comedians, including Jerry Seinfeld, George Carlin, Henny Youngman, Steven Wright, Phyllis Diller, and many more . . . These examples will help you to internalize the rules, and to apply them to your own jokes.

Perret is an excellent teacher, and his advice comes from years of experience not only as a professional comedy writer, but also as a teacher who has taught, and is still teaching, numerous comedy writing workshops and classes, both on and off line. His book, The New Comedy Writing Step by Step, which is a revised version of his book, Comedy Writing Step by Step has been the 'gold standard' of books on comedy writing ever since it was first published in 1990. Rather than serving as a textbook, The Ten Commandments of Comedy is more of a guide book, one that is must reading for all comedy writers, humorists, and comedians. It will also prove invaluable to any writer or speaker who wants to infuse his writing, or next speech, with a little levity. Learning and following the commandments in this 'bible' will not only teach you the fundamental skills of comedy writing, but it will help you learn how to identify a weak joke and make it stronger - and funnier. This book will also improve your delivery of your jokes, and make you better at picking out those jokes that will not work - before you use them in public!

From beginning to end, The Ten Commandments of Comedy is a treasure trove of information. Short and to the point, it will not take you long to read this book. But be forewarned, this is a book that you will return to again and again until is pages are ragged and filled with notes, as you study and devour the information contained with its pages!


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