Most helpful critical review
46 of 56 people found the following review helpful
Very BAD advice.
on January 30, 2010
I'm really shocked by all the rave reviews on here for this book. If you read the book and don't do anything I guess it can SEEM like a good book. It does give you lots of advice for your comedy career. But the problem is when you actually take the advice and use in on stage IT DOESN'T WORK. And isn't that what matters most? Sure it's a well written self help book. But the advice she offers doesn't work.
I've been doing comedy for 10 years. I read this book because I was looking for something to help my career. I still haven't "made it" and have to work a day job. I was looking for something to take me to the next level. There is a big section in the book on what makes jokes funny, and the 5 specific words you should use. "something is WEIRD, something is SCARY, etc, etc." I thought, maybe she's right, maybe I really don't understand the STRUCTURE of jokes, maybe just telling jokes and stories that I think are funny is not the way to go, maybe I need STRUCTURED setups. So against my better judgment I re-wrote an entire 10 minute act using this advice. I went on to have the WORST show I've ever had! Seriously. Just.... absolute CRICKETS. And I fully believed that what I had done was going to work wonders for my set! I've never bombed so badly. It was a comedy competition where months prior I'd made it though to the 3rd round finals. This time I got bumped out the first round.
The other TERRIBLE advice she gives is she says "tell jokes, don't tell stories." REALLY!? Some of the BEST comedians tell stories! Daniel Tosh, Louis CK, Dennis Leary, Pablo Francisco, they ALL tell stories. Terrible advice.
The most important thing you have to ask yourself is "Who the heck is Judy Carter?!" Why is she qualified to write a book on comedy?? If she was so great at comedy, she'd be DOING it right now. You'd see her on the tonight show, or comedy central, or she's have an HBO special. She doesn't. She's old, washed up, doling out OLD advice. If you have absolutely no clue how to write jokes or be funny, I guess this book is better than nothing. But if you've done ANY stand-up at all, even for just 6 months, do NOT buy this book. It's rubbish. Trust your gut. YOU know WHAT is and is not funny. You don't need the "joke structure" to tell it to you. If you have even just DECENT natural talent, you'll intrinsically figure the structure out without even thinking about it, just by doing shows. Trying to figure out the "structure" will make you LESS FUNNY!
Jerry Seinfeld can write an advice book on comedy, so can Jay Leno, Louis CK, Steve Martin, etc, etc. Because they're GOOD. ....Judy Carter. You gotta' be kidding me. I'm telling you, READING THIS BOOK AND APPLYING IT WILL HURT YOUR COMEDY CAREER. Don't do what I did - worst show of my life.