Sunday, September 22, 2013

Joking Aside

I just read Franklyn Ajaye's Comic Insights: Comedy The Art Of Stand-Up .  Ajaye, a pretty decent comedian himself, gives some advice on how to develop and perform an act, but most of the book is interviews with major comedians such as George Carlin, Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno and so on.

Comedians by their very nature are analytical.  They look at things in our world, take them apart, and reconfigure them to get a laugh, often based on an original insight.  And reading how various top comics came about their style is intriguing. Yet, it's hard to avoid the feeling that their advice is of limited use.  Sure, there's plenty one can learn from others, but, ultimately, you've got to go up there in front of people and make them laugh.  And if you want to write your own material, you've got to figure out how to get a take on the world.

So if you're interested in stand-up, you could do a lot worse than this book. But if you want to learn to be funny, this is, at best, the first in many tricky step you'll need to go through. Perhaps it'll be useful to understand that the top comics had to go through them as well.

PS  The first celebrity I remember seeing when I moved to Los Angeles was Franklyn Ajaye.  He was in a bookstore.  I left him alone, and have been leaving celebrities alone ever since.

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