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on February 2, 2003
I'll give this one five stars. I started to give it four because half of it is about writting sitcom comedy, which doesn't interest me, but judging by what it does have that interests me, I'd say those parts would be helpful for anyone interested in that. This book explains simply what makes something funny, without complicating things.
Good book!!!
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on December 28, 1999
Although it focuses on writing comedy, "The Comic Toolbox" offers a lot of good advice that applies to screenwriting in general. It's written in a breezy, humorous way that makes it a particularly good read. Of the many books on screenwriting out there, this is one of the best.
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on January 8, 2004
As a professional comedian I have shelves of books on comedy. I always enjoy exploring new books just in hopes to extract one or two useful bits of information. The comic toolbox has TONS of useful information. I have used many of the author's tools to review and rewrite my current material to make it stronger and in helping me develop new material. The author's writing style is very pleasant and gets to the point in a lighthearted fashion. Whether you are writing comedy for tv, movies, or the stage this book is worth the small investment into your career.
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on August 4, 2002
I'm a professional comedy writer working on my first TV show, and I owe much of my success to this book. Like all crafts, comedy can be learned, and "The Comic Toolbox" is the best book for it. In "The Matrix", Neo learned Kung Fu by having the skills zapped into his brain. Well, this book is the equivalent. Vorhaus will zap funny into you.
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on January 12, 2008
The title doesn't really explain what this is. I was expecting more tools and methods for stand-up comedy. However, this is for scripting and writing shows, movies, screenplays, novels. The method breaks down into the simplest elements, giving the reader lots of great tools for building humorous stories. The writing style is direct and clear.
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on November 8, 2009
I bought this book because I had never read anything on what the elements of comedy are and I thought it would be interesting. Definitely the book provides an approach to comedy that is very clear, practical and engaging. On this basis alone the book is an easy five-star read. Also, Mr. Vorhaus does a great job keeping the reader entertained and chuckling along the way.

As a surprising bonus, there is a lot of life wisdom in here too. The author is a very positive, humane, and encouraging person. With an awareness of human weaknesses and fears, he constantly encourages the reader to practice, to not get down if something is not perfect the first time (or the second or third), to focus on the process and journey, believe in oneself, and to strive for excellence. All-around, this is a beautifully done and very useful book that will stand the test of time.
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on December 29, 2010
I have read only half of the book so far and I had to write a review. I do not care if the rest of the book is all crap, because I have already got more than what I paid for. This book is writing comedy broken to the bones. The tools are very simple and efficient to build comic characters, comic stories,etc. Also his chapter on comic throughline is just amazing. In a nutshell, this book is really great, for the lack of better word and buy it without a second thought.
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on August 8, 2006
As a professional screenwriter and teacher of screenwriting, I can testify that this book offers loads of invaluable advice and wisdom about writing comedy. But as an added bonus, it will help you write almost any kind of screenplay. A treasured addition to my shelf of how-to books.
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on May 30, 2006
Finally, a book that offers real tools and exercises to help you write humor. After you get the basics, John Vorhaus helps you understand what makes it funny and what slows it down and shows you how to get the laugh instead of just head nods because they realize you are ironic. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking to write humor on demand. Other books interview humorists and share tips for doing stand-up, while managing to never actually give you a single tool to write a joke. John immediately takes you by the hand and gets you writing jokes on any subject, in a variety of styles.

I would love to see John write a book focused on the Comic Strip and similar short form humor.
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Mr. Vorhaus's real tool (if you'll excuse the expression) is that he's very good at analysis. This book does a broad sweep of some classic old sitcoms and screen plays or `telling of stories' as he puts it. He analyses what's been done and then says to the reader `now you do that'. I know from teaching joke writing myself that some students need more than that, hence the mixed reviews. An interesting book but his approach is very academic.
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