Like all of John Vorhaus's books on writing (The Comic Toolbox, Creativity Rules; that list goes on), Comedy Writing 4 Life makes the creative process easy, fun and accessible to absolutely everyone. Whether you're into stand-up, sketch or improv, situation comedies or comic screenplays, cartoons, video, blogging, whatever, you're going to find so much value in this slim volume that your head will literally explode. Literally. Pieces of it will be found for miles around. You'll learn the fundamental secret of comedy (no secret; comedy is cruelty), how to use filters to create comic characters, simple storytelling shortcuts, and just tons more. With pithy advice like, "Fail big!" and plenty of entertaining exercises that you can do as you go, CW4L presents a simple, effective guide to success in comedy writing and beyond. If you're serious about being frivolous, this little book will change your comedy writing for life.
John Vorhaus is now known to one and all as the man who brought Radar Hoverlander - con artist extraordinaire - to life in the "sunshine noir" mystery novel, THE CALIFORNIA ROLL, and its acclaimed sequel, THE ALBUQUERQUE TURKEY. His other novels include UNDER THE GUN and WORLD SERIES OF MURDER, the latter available exclusively through Kindle.John is also well known as the author of THE COMIC TOOLBOX: HOW TO BE FUNNY EVEN IF YOU'RE NOT. This seminal book on writing comedy for television and film is now in its fifth printing, and continues to be a definitive source of information and inspiration for writers from Santa Monica to Scandinavia. Its companion volume, CREATIVITY RULES, is similarly a crucial book for writers at any stage of development.Not content to rest on those laurels, Vorhaus is also the author of ten books on poker, including the KILLER POKER series and, with Annie Duke, the revolutionary DECIDE TO PLAY GREAT POKER. "As a poker player," confesses Vorhaus, "I'm a pretty good writer."An international consultant in television and film script development, Vorhaus has worked for television networks, film schools, production companies and film funding bodies in 32 countries on five continents. He recently worked in Moscow, running the writing staff of the Russian version of Married... with Children, and in Tel Aviv, consulting on the Israeli version of The Golden Girls. He also travels regularly to Nicaragua, where he builds social-action comedy/dramas to provide positive role modeling for the poor, young and disenfranchised of that embattled country. Vorhaus is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and a member of the Writers Guild of America. He has consulted to Walt Disney Feature Animation and taught at such institutions as Northwestern University, the American Film Institute and the Writers Program of the UCLA Extension. He tweets @TrueFactBarFact and secretly controls the world from johnvorhaus.com
"I've been a fan of John Vorhaus' since I discovered The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even If You're Not in the 1990s. Vorhaus was a master at zooming in on the "working parts" of a joke/routine/sketch/scene/story/etc. and making it seem simple. Then he gave you an exercise to do to help you develop/flex that particular writing muscle.
COMEDY WRITING 4 LIFE does the same thing, but it's a couple of decades later and Vorhaus has more writing tricks up his sleeve than he did back then!
More than that, his experience in the field since then seems to have crystallized his understanding of comedy writing (and writing in general) to a laser-sharp focus that makes you feel like, "Oh! It's THAT easy? I can do that!"
In fact, it seems like explaining the mechanics of writing comedy is almost a secondary goal; his primary reason for writing this book seem to be to get US writing OUR book/script/standup routine/etc! Where other professional writers can be vague and mysterious about their process, John Vorhaus is open and as honest as a person can be. Where writing gurus can give us great theoretical insight into why the finished story works, Vorhaus gives us fun steps to creating that story! This isn't writing theory, these are practical steps!
And as with everything he writes, COMEDY WRITING 4 LIFE is just a lot of fun to read! Even if this is your first Vorhaus book, you know you can trust the process he outlines for you because he is, himself, an excellent and funny writer.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in writing, even if their genre isn't comedy. This book can help anyone generate a story idea out of thin air, then develop that idea into a skeleton, then into an outline, then into a completed draft, then rewrite that draft until is sparkles!
My short list of all-time writing references: This book (first), then Vorhaus' How to Write Good (strong second), then McKee's STORY, then King's ON WRITING.
But if you read only one book to get started writing, I would recommend this one!"