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Step by Step to Stand-Up Comedy Paperback – July 13, 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews

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  • Step by Step to Stand-Up Comedy
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Greg Dean is a former Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus clown, a street performer, and a regular at the Comedy Store in Hollywood. Through his popular "Stand-Up Comedy Workshop" at the Santa Monica Playhouse, Dean has worked with many of today's top comics. He currently lives in Los Angeles, California.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Heinemann Drama (July 13, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0325001790
  • ISBN-13: 978-0325001791
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #177,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As someone who has been a lifelong stand-up comedy aficionado - either as an audience member or on-stage performer - I am very thrilled to have finally found a resource which offers a viable, understandable method for creating new stand-up material, on any premise of your choosing. As an added bonus, Greg Dean's method has also helped me to understand WHY funny material I `happened' to come up with previously IS indeed funny, making me feel more in control of the process, and providing the inspiration to create a wealth of new material I never otherwise would have. (So much so, in fact, that my index card and legal pad purchases are probably keeping Staples in business!)
Specifically, what I have found most helpful are: Greg Dean's instructions on how to perform material both from your own point of view (the `narrator POV') and from other characters' POVs, and how to keep the various POVs clear and distinct when performing; his explanation of how best to rehearse your material, so that during a show, you're not just aping material form a script memorized verbatim, but are instead recounting real, vivid experiences as though they were actually happening - much more liberating for the comic, and far more interesting and funny for the audience. The rehearsal process also allows you to modify or add to your routines as you rehearse, or even ON STAGE.
To paraphrase an old adage, Greg Dean truly does teach you HOW to fish, unlike so many other books on stand-up which just toss fish at you, or - worse still - merely describe what a fish looks like, and how to differentiate the various species of gilled ichthyic vertebrates. O Dean of Comedy, thank you!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Greg's book has really helped me on 2 independent fronts: The effective performance of stand-up comedy, and COMEDY WRITING! This is an important point for those who are writers, not performers. Of all the books I've ever read on comedy, this is the first one to actually outline a concrete process for quickly generating a significant volume of humorous material. This should be very useful for anyone doing any kind of script writing.
Naturally, the writing methods described in the book are also quite helpful for performers, as are the in-depth instructions for actually doing stand up comedy. I've used this book as a constant source of inspiration in rehearsing and to raise my spirits right before performances. It's literally the kind of book that I can open to just about any page, read for 10 minutes, and come away with renewed energy and enthusiasm.
Some books I've read on this subject have a few good parts, but this one has high-quality material from start to finish. If you're looking for a true textbook on comedy (both writing and performance), this is the only book you'll need.
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Format: Paperback
Greg Dean has written a great book for stand-up comics. First he shows you how to create jokes on any topic without having to wait for inspiration. Then you learn to assemble the material into a smooth, logical routine. Next he helps you rehearse and finally, he gets you up on stage to give the performance of your life - night after night!
As if that weren't enough, Greg has done two more things. First, he's defined a process for creating humor that works not just for stand-up but for all kinds of humor writing. Second, he's provided performance guides that apply equally well to speakers who "just" want to deliver a humorous presentation.
Now, if you're one of those purely intuitive, wait-for-the-thunderbolt-of-inspiration types, then maybe you won't find this book of as much value as the rest of us poor humorists do. But for anyone who's a serious student of the art and who wants to learn more about making funny, this book is a must have.
Darn Good Job, Greg Dean!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A bit about me and what I think about comedy books in general:
I've been doing comedy for about a year now and this is the first book I read. It is not perfect, but that is not the fault of the author. To write a perfect book on comedy would probably be very difficult and probably beyond the talents of even a very famous comedian. The problem is people who know how to do things do not always know why it works or can explain it to other people. Comedy, or any type of performance, is especially tricky because it is something that is learned with experience and things learned in this way are often difficult to communicate to someone who does not have the relevant experience.

What this book tries do:
First of all Dean gives you his joke writing method. It is formulaic and unnatural. However it does have a number of virtues. In the first place it forces you, a neophyte, to begin to think analytically about what goes into making up a one-liner. This is a very important first step - it is not good enough to intuitively know when things are funny, you have to learn to analyze what the elements are which make it funny. In the second place Deane's method does something important, which I think any good writing method does, it forces you to ask questions about what you are writing, and the answers to these questions give you the seed for the ideas for the next thing you write, or for editing what you have already written. Again this is a bit unnatural, but if you've ever written anything and tried to seriously edit it, you will know what this is like. It involves taking a critical look at your own creation and crossing out the things that don't work or trying to improve them.

Secondly Dean gives a lot of great pointers for creating material and performing and rehearsing.
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