The Comedy Bible
eBook - ePub

The Comedy Bible

From Stand-up to Sitcom--The Comedy Writer's Ultimate "How To" Guide

Judy Carter

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  1. 368 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

The Comedy Bible

From Stand-up to Sitcom--The Comedy Writer's Ultimate "How To" Guide

Judy Carter

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About This Book

Judy Carter, guru to aspiring comedy writers and stand-up comics, tells all about the biz of being funny and writing funny in this bright, entertaining, and totally practical guide on how to draw humor from your life and turn it into a career. Do you think you're funny? Do you want to turn your sense of humor into a career? If the answer is yes, then Judy Carter's The Comedy Bible is for you. The guru to aspiring stand-up comics provides the complete scoop on being—and writing—funny for money.If you've got a sense of humor, you can learn to make a career out of comedy, says Judy Carter. Whether it's creating a killer stand-up act, writing a spec sitcom, or providing jokes for radio or one-liners for greeting cards, Carter provides step-by-step instructions in The Comedy Bible. She helps readers first determine which genre of comedy writing or performing suits them best and then directs them in developing, refining, and selling their work. Using the hands-on workbook format that was so effective in her bestselling first book, Stand-Up Comedy: The Book, Carter offers a series of day-by-day exercises that draw on her many years as a successful stand-up comic and the head of a nationally known comedy school. Also included are practical tips and advice from today's top comedy professionals—from Bernie Brillstein to Christopher Titus to Richard Lewis. She presents the pros and cons of the various comedy fields—stand-up, script, speech and joke writing, one-person shows, humor essays—and shows how to tailor your material for each. She teaches how to find your "authentic" voice—the true source of comedy. And, perhaps most important, Carter explains how to take a finished product to the next level—making money—by pitching it to a buyer and negotiating a contract. Written in Carter's unique, take-no-prisoners voice, The Comedy Bible is practical, inspirational, and funny.

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Atria Books

Warm-up—Is There Any Hope for You?

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

“When adults ask kids, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ they’re just looking for clues themselves.”
There are a lot of ways to make a living from comedy. You can perform it, write it, draw it, or manage it. From the list below, check which ones you’re interested in or think you know you’re good at.

Performing Comedy

Stand-up comic
Depending on the quality of your act, you can work at comedy clubs, hotels, concert venues, colleges, or corporate meetings, on cruise ships, at open mikes, or at your aunt Thelma’s eightieth birthday party.
Sketch TV shows such as Saturday Night Live and Mad TV scout improvisers from improv troupes such as Second City (in Chicago and Toronto) and the Groundlings (in Los Angeles), as well as improv festivals (Austin, Texas, Montreal, Canada). Improvisers are in demand for acting and TV commercials as well as for voice-over work, feature animation, and game shows.
Commercial actor
Funny people who can add sizzle to ad copy are cast in high-paying TV commercials.
Voice-over performer
Comedy timing and technique are required in this field, which needs comics to add funny character voices to cartoons, TV commercials, and feature animation.
Warm-up for TV shows
Most TV shows hire a comic to warm up the live studio audience before and during the taping of TV shows and infomercials.
Radio comedy
Funny song parodies turned unknown “Weird Al” Yankovic into a famous and rich man. Radio stations buy prerecorded song parodies, impersonations, and other comedy bits produced by small production houses that specialize in creating this type of material.
Radio talk show host
As more talk shows fill the AM and FM airwaves, radio producers are turning to comics to keep their listeners laughing and listening.
Cruise ship entertainer
Imagine doing your act for your grandmother—that’s the kind of act you need to work cruise ships. If you’ve got four different twenty-minute clean sets and don’t mind living with your audience for a few weeks, then this could be for you.
Corporate humorist
If you can make people laugh with clean material, then entertaining at corporate events might be just your thing.

Writing Comedy

Customized stand-up material
Some stand-up comics who perform supplement their income by writing for other comics. And then there are those funny people who have never done stand-up themselves but who write it for others, such as funnyman Bruce Vilanch, who writes for Bette Midler and the Academy Awards show.
TV sitcoms
Comics are hired to staff sitcoms or develop sitcoms for stand-up comics who have development deals. Many of the most successful sitcoms are based on stand-up comedy acts. Stand-up comics Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld became billionaires when they turned their stand-up acts into one of the most successful sitcoms ever—Seinfeld.
TV and film producers hire comics for the important job of punching up, or adding laughs to, a script.
Screenwriting and directing
Comedy directors often start their careers with live performances. Betty Thomas started in an improv troupe and went on to direct features such as The Brady Bunch Movie. Tom Shadyac, director of Patch Adams, Liar, Liar, and The Nutty Professor, actually started out in my stand-up workshop. Two years later, he directed his first feature, Ace Ventura.
Literary writing
“Funny” can also translate into books, magazine articles, and newspaper columns. George Carlin turned his unused stand-up material into the book Brain Droppings. Comedy director/screenwriter Nora Ephron (You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle) wrote short funny magazine pieces that later became a popular book, Mixed Nuts. Dave Barry expresses his “funny” in a nationally syndicated column and in books.
Development and producing
Funny ideas often translate into projects for commercial TV and film. Paul Reubens’s character Pee-wee Herman started out as a character in an improv show at the Groundlings. It turned into an HBO special, two feature films, and an award-winning children’s TV series.
Animation writing
All major studios actively look for funny people to write and punch up their TV and feature animation projects. Irene Mecchi began as a comedy writer, writing comedy material for Lily Tomlin. Now she works for Disney animation and was the screenwriter of The Lion King.
Internet work
Because a good laugh can stop an Internet surfer at a Web site, companies such as Excite, Yahoo!, and AOL hire comics to write catchy copy.
Many CEOs and politicians turn to comedy writers to provide sound bites so that they get noticed, win over their audiences, and don’t get stuck with their foot in their mouth.
“I know what they say about me—that I’m so stiff that racks buy their suits off me.”

Marketing Comedy

Funny ideas can turn into funny products, such as Pet Rocks, screen savers, or greeting cards. Skyler Thomas, who started writing jokes in my class, put his jokes on T-shirts. They became major sellers and he now runs a multimillion-dollar T-shirt business called Don’t Panic, with stores nationwide.
Ad copy
Who do you think writes those funny bits in ads that get your attention? Comedy writers.
“Most relationships don’t last as long as the L.A. Marathon.”
Managing and booking
Many agents and managers started by putting shows together for themselves and ended up booking others.
Right now, of course, you don’t need to make a commitment to any specific comedy field. Actually, no matter which field of comedy you are interested in at the start of this book,...

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