Most helpful critical review
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Slovenly and superficial, there are numerous better books.
on July 10, 2012
I picked up this book on Kindle based on the majority of 5-star reviews.
Then I read the first third of the book. This book is for idiots who slept through English class. The author's definition of farce is imbecilic. Just so you know what it actually is, here is the definition from a master farceur, Joe Keenan: "A tightly-plotted comedy in which a misunderstanding or deliberate deception spirals progressively out of control." Now if you watch some of the great farces on Frasier (written by Joe Keenan), or farce masterpieces like Tootsie, or Rumors by Neil Simon, that is what you will see. If you read this author's concept of a farce, then the Bullwinkle cartoons apply. It's just terrible how little work was put into this book.
Then I noticed the near-complete absence of AMAZON VERIFIED PURCHASE on the 5-star reviews. At the time of this writing, there are 38 5-star reviews, of which only eight are AMAZON VERIFIED PURCHASES. That's a confirmed purchase rate of 21%. Now look at how many of these same unverified reviews were posted within three weeks of the book's publication. I rather suspect the author's colleagues, students and relatives donated the reviews. Why is there no AMAZON VERIFIED PURCHASE on this review??? Because I returned the book for a refund.
Honestly, if you want a superb book on comedy writing, get THE COMIC TOOLBOX by John Vorhaus. It is just excellent in every way. It teaches you the internal architecture of comedy, how to construct a comic character, and how the comedic polarities interrelate and play against one another. You're Funny is such a remedial introduction to comedy, you'd actually get more out of watching five episodes of Frasier (from Seasons 2, 3 or 11). Another excellent book on comedy writing is THE NEW COMEDY WRITING STEP BY STEP by Gene Perret. He wrote for everyone from Phyllis Diller to Carol Burnett to Bob Hope (okay, so Bob Hope was never all that funny). Perret's book is full of exercises that will sharpen your punchline skills. If you buy You're Funny, get those other two books to compare. The contrast in helpfulness is stunning. [Aug 17, 2015 addendum: New and brilliant comedy title, "Comedy Writing for Late-Night TV" by Joe Toplyn. Toplyn wrote for Letterman, Leno and Conan O'Brien, among others. Brilliant book with solid, workable advice. Can't recommend it enough!]
And, all politics aside, it is very annoying to read how many sketches the author wrote to parody the right wing. It's like every chapter is one more anecdote of his liberal-agenda-in-every-joke career. Okay, dude. You're a democrat. We get it. Who in Hollywood isn't?
This book is a rough draft of a mediocre idea that never got developed.