Zen and the Art of Sta...
Jay Sankey
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Zen and the Art of Stand-Up Comedy

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  81 ratings  ·  12 reviews
In this engaging and disarmingly frank book, comic Jay Sankey spills the beans, explaining not only how to write and perform stand-up comedy, but how to improve and perfect your work. Much more than a how-to manual Zen andthe Art of Stand-Up Comedy is the most detailed and comprehensive book on the subject to date.
ebook, 232 pages
Published November 12th 2012 by Routledge (first published 1998)
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I coach a group of amateur comedians every year for "Accountants Are Funny Too", a charity event that pits 10 accountants from the Southeast against each other in a fun competition of stand-up, mainly to debunk the myth that theirs is a humorless, dry profession.

Anyway, this is the one book I recommend above all others to them in terms of 'getting' what doing stand-up is all about. I don't like the title, b/c I think the "Zen and the Art of..." thing has been done to death, and it makes it soun...more

Probably the most useful parts are reminding a comic that for whatever reasons, reactions vary--the same material may kill one night and another bomb or that a mediocre comic may get a great reaction in front of the same audience where a really good comic gets nothing.

Overall, the book appears to attempt to provide guidance for someone completely new to comedy (ie how to structure a joke) to someone more experienced (ie getting an agent, what to do when a headliner) as a result it at time...more
Jul 24, 2007 Blake rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Actors, amateur comedians
Not much "Zen" here in this bland introduction to Stand-Up comedy, apart from a 6-page chapter at the end and Suzuki quotes introducing some sections.

There are some interesting parallels to be implicitly drawn between Zen, acting and Stand-Up. I would recommend this as a book on auditioning as well for the similarities to monologue auditioning.

Overall, an easy read. Nothing earth-shattering or enlightening here. Redundancies in the instruction, advice and writing style make you feel like you've...more
Gary Parish
I'm a huge fan of Jay Sankey's instructional DVDs on sleight-of-hand magic so I figured this would be something worth my time. An extremely easy read and not as funny as you might think, Sankey spells out the trials and pitfalls of what it's like to be a comic, more anecdotal than a cut-and-dried lesson plan but entertaining nevertheless. He includes pointers on scripting, rehearsing, dealing with hecklers and how to use a journal for ideas.
John G.
Loved it, no other comedy book out there delves as deeply into the psychological and philosophical underpinnings of stand-up comedy, perhaps other than "Only Joking: What's So Funny About Making People Laugh?" by British Comedian Jimmy Carr and Lucy Greeves, but that book is more about humor and laughter in general and Sankey's book is much more a how-to book.
Besides the anecdotal information much more material was presented with a logical breakdown in the comedy bible (previously reviewed). There was much overlap which reinforces just what one is in for if planning to go try their mettle in the stand up comedy world.
Jamie Grefe
A solid guide to the art of stand-up comedy as told by someone familiar with Zen and Meisner. Overall, I found this very helpful and useful in the idea behind and the work involved in honing the craft of stand-up comedy.
This was the only title I read before actually performing stand-up. It was good...interesting and provided some helpful insight. I need to read more in-depth on the subject. This wasn't a bad start.
Ben Nesvig
Entertaining, though not funny, with some useful information. Not sure how it compares to other books on the subject.
Interesting read.
Good advice readily relates to all manner of public speaking.
Helpful..jury's still out.
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Beyond Secrets Zen and the Art of Stand-Up Comedy (Theatre Arts (Routledge Hardcover)) Zen and the Art of the Monologue

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