Comedy Writing Secrets

a book review

authorMel Helitzer, Mark Shatz
date reviewed2011.10.05

I bought this to offset some of the more serious books I'd bought on writing copy. It turns out to be an amazingly insightful guide on how comedy actually writes. For example, chapter three starts with the fact that humor must have a target. I'd never really thought of it that way, but they gone to explain that everything from one-liners to a "three-act theatrical piece" must have:

  • Target
  • Hostility
  • Realism
  • Exaggeration
  • Emotion
  • Surprise

You'd be forgiven for thinking that a book on comedy writing might be light, but this is a three hundred page work as serious and nuanced as any university textbook. It contains an encyclopedic coverage of the field of comedy writing.

Even though I don't plan on writing any comedy, I strongly recommend this book as a fascinating insight into something that anyone can enjoy.

rand()m quote

I feel fortunate that I enjoyed the blandishments of modernity. I had hip replacement and root canal. I was able to travel on airplanes. I was able to take cheap food for granted. I went to the movies. I enjoyed rock 'n' roll. And now I'm ready to move on.

—James Howard Kunstler