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Comedy by the Numbers: The 169 Secrets of Humor and Popularity Paperback


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Comedy by the Numbers: The 169 Secrets of Humor and Popularity + Art by Committee: A Guide to Advanced Improvisation + Truth in Comedy: The Manual for Improvisation
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 150 pages
  • Publisher: McSweeney's (June 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932416757
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932416756
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.7 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #678,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By S. Quattry on June 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
I don't do book reviews, I don't do surveys, I'm really lazy. But, for this book? For this book, I will take three minutes to write my first ever book review. It will be short. Ready? This is the funniest book I have ever read in my entire life. Sure, it could just be a crazy coincidence that the humor of the authors is the exact humor I like, but I think that anyone will find this book funny. I read the book over the course of a month so as to savor it, and I read 5 pages a night, and I laughed every single night, and 3/4ths of the nights I laughed till I had tears in my eyes. I'm cynical and not humored easily. But this book is incredibly funny.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Truman Chipotle on February 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
The authors have managed to create a parody of the old-fashioned "how-to" books that folks used to order from the backs of men's magazines or comic books, while at the same time giving a pretty insightful look into the fact that when it comes to comedy, it's all been done before. So the book works on two different levels at the same time. This is truly absurdist humor with some laugh-out-loud funny bits of satire, but there are also some interesting (and at times depressing) factoids about real comedians and comic traditions.

I have two main complaints about the book. First, the writing style has a somewhat uneven and at times slapdash quality, as if the writers were struggling to achieve a certain page count. Second, the overall concept or premise of the book begins to wear thin (and the laughs become fewer and further between) as you get into the last third of it.

I should also that the physical construction of the book is a bit sub-standard. The cover is made of some sort of recycled brown cardstock or heavy paper, with a three-hole punch (perhaps to make it look more like a manual or handbook, or at least that's how they are probably justifying the shoddy materials). To be fair, however, the paper quality inside the book is more than adequate (bright and readable).

Comedy by the Numbers is definitely worth a look if you can find it for a good 25% of more off the list price, but otherwise, you should probably skip it.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Phillip Schwarzmann on July 19, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Any fans of stand-up comedy will like the idea of this book, one section for each aspect of comedy. But unfortunately it falls into the same trap most comedy books: It's tries to be funny first and interesting second.

There's little substance, just jokes, and very few times I really laughed. Reading this from front to back is ill-advised, put it next to the can and read a few pages while you're dropping the kids off at the pool.

BTW, there's a book-on-tape out on this book where popular comedians read out chapters of the book in front of audiences. It's also kinda Zzzz....: [...]
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By W. Miller on March 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
1) This book is seriously funny.
2) Armed with this book, unfunny people will finally know how to be funny.
3) That's not really true.
4) This book is very, very funny despite its inability to help unfunny people.
5) Can't wait for a sequel!
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Scott A. Roberts on February 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
It's not that awesome in the way that it will help you be funnier in everyday life, it's more awesome in the descriptions of the hilarious situations they envision putting you in. But I'm sure in reading it, you will find a few ideas to steal in the middle of a very entertaining book. I sure did. And they mention several times in the book they are cool with stealing their ideas, as long as you spread word of the book, so that's what I'm doing now!
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