This book belongs in the pantheon of books that could be a single blog post but instead have somehow been drawn out into repetitive and unnecessarily...moreThis book belongs in the pantheon of books that could be a single blog post but instead have somehow been drawn out into repetitive and unnecessarily large books. If I were to tell you the title and that it was focussed on the workplace I imagine most of you would be able to surmise the key points without needing to read it. Perhaps that is why, as the author himself admits, many people have told him how they often refer others to the book without ever having read it themselves.
Generally that wouldn't annoy me; reinforcement is good, a shared point of reference is good, in fact, sometimes the obvious does need to be stated but I wasn't swayed in this case and the continual use of a "tell 'em what you’re going to say, say it, and then tell 'em what you said" style was equal parts patronising and boring.
Oh and I'm still wondering why the self-serving epilogue was required in my copy at all...(less)
I had a hard time reading this book. I wanted to love it like I had Neverwhere and The Ocean at the end of the lane but at times it felt labored and s...moreI had a hard time reading this book. I wanted to love it like I had Neverwhere and The Ocean at the end of the lane but at times it felt labored and slightly aimless. I'm not sure if this is the fault of me reading the extended 'authors preferred text' version; in fact I'd be quite interested to give the original published version a go and compare the difference.
The concept is an intriguing one. That of immigrant peoples bringing their gods with them from overseas who are then forced to survive as human like versions powered by the remaining, but dwindling, belief that their people have in them. Fighting for attention with all the draws of the modern age (which themselves are anthropomorphised as the 'old gods' antagonists).
Ultimately I enjoyed the story and the style, but the feeling of 'spot the god/myth reference' occasionally grew tiresome. (less)
I'm not sure anyone serious about entering the world of stand-up (or other comedy writing) would necessarily be reading this book. But then that isn't...moreI'm not sure anyone serious about entering the world of stand-up (or other comedy writing) would necessarily be reading this book. But then that isn't the only audience that may find it interesting. Even as an 'fascinated audience member' it can be fun to think a bit further about what kind of processes a comic *may* have used to get to the joke you've just seen on stage.
Holloway presents a series of practical methods and exercises that may assist you in the writing process. Starting with Puns and wordplay (including exercises going through newspaper stories selecting interesting words and working with them) through allowing your brain some time-off for 'background processing' and then creating 'joke webs' (mind maps and word association based on a topic). The 'colliding' of these webs is probably the final practical exercise that doesn't necessarily rely on a particular 'talent' - whereby the creator of joke maps attempts to join two ostensibly unrelated maps to find common ground to riff on.
It is after these chapters that it really becomes clear that even with a series of step by step actions to take there still needs to be an element of experience, talent, magic (whatever you'd like to call it) in the mix. Surrealist inquisition (looking at the problem from a diverse variety of positions) and 'Honing' (to a much stronger extent) rely upon the joke author creating a rhythm, timing, framing and elaboration/extension of the joke to make it something that would stand up for use with a general audience.
Of course the performer would also require a charm and stage presence. Tim Vine, for example, relies heavily on puns.. but the reason they work is his delivery and mixing them up with surrealist songs and skits not what could be described as rather basic puns.
Holloway ends with a case study of her own whereby she, in diary style, describes her involvement in writing a routine for a corporate gig.
Interesting and worth a read perhaps more so as a means of directing creativity in any form not just joke writing. Will you be the next Jimmy Carr or Sarah Millican? probably not but you'll be armed with a few techniques to get you on your way.(less)