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Formats
Paperback Details
  • 05/2022
  • 979-8-9862772-0-2 BOB1J56LFG
  • 566 pages
  • $28.99
Bruce Johnson
Author, Illustrator
Comedy Techniques for Variety Artists

This comprehensive comedy course will aid you in entertaining family audiences by increasing the humor in your variety act.

It provides:

  • The fundamentals of comedy
  • History of comedy
  • Specific techniques that have been identified as tending to generate laughter
  • Examples of how those techniques have been used
  • Thought-provoking questions to help you decide how you might use those techniques
  • Methods enabling you to connect more fully with your audience.

And offers exercises assisting you in:

  • identifying your style of humor and finding your performance character.
  • strengthening your creativity.
  • writing individual jokes.
  • creating entire routines.

This book helps you create your own comedy material uniquely suited to you and your audiences, and realize your full potential as an entertainer. Turn your routines into unique performances and never feel the need to clone others again.

Reviews
Johnson, a.k.a. Charlie the Juggling Clown, offers this delightful, exhaustive, and charmingly illustrated guide to delighting an audience, vaudeville-clown style, offering a rich array of gags, set-ups, exercises, skit and scene models, and much practical advice crafted to give readers a serious leg up all over the other clowns in the car. Aimed at emcees, magicians, variety artists, as well as the seltzer-squirting set, and cheekily subtitled “Vol. 4” despite being Johnson’s first book, Comedy Techniques for Variety Artists bursts with crowd-tested ideas and approaches for cooking up (or perfecting) an act to entertain a family audience. While the opening pages offer illuminating thoughts on how jokes work, what jokes are appropriate for individual acts, and the niceties of timing and running gags, the emphasis throughout is on highly specific techniques and routines any performer can make their own.

Making it your own is crucial for any performer. Johnson encourages this with a host of exercises for readers (inventing new words; writing malapropisms appropriate for your comedy character; crafting specific styles of scene or improvisation prompts). These follow inviting, incisive chapters on classic comedy techniques and routines like spoonerisms or “Deflation of Authority/Pomposity” that briefly examine the history of these bits reaching back to the circus, the funny pages, Burns & Allen, and Fibber McGee and Molly—and persuasive consideration of why they work: “Part of the appeal of a character flaunting authority is the audience vicariously enjoying the character getting away with something they wish they could, but didn’t dare do.”

The advice throughout is flexible and pragmatic. Creating a comedy character demands establishing sets of rules and disciplines that can’t be violated and finding clear justification for the character’s actions. The joy of the book is in how explicable Johnson makes this, and how he lays bare the structure and logic of the many amusing routines he shares, inviting readers to understand—and to create.

Takeaway: This guide to crafting variety-show comedy for family audiences illuminates and inspires.

Great for fans of: Eli Simon’s The Art of Clowning, John Vorhaus’s The Comic Toolbox.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Formats
Paperback Details
  • 05/2022
  • 979-8-9862772-0-2 BOB1J56LFG
  • 566 pages
  • $28.99

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