By Barry Bakalor

The following are three lists of comedy reference books.

I cannot recommend this first group for serious performers. If all you want are some weak jokes for putting together a birthday party show, I guess they'll do, but I don't think they'll lead you towards any great insights in comedy writing.

2100 Laughs for all Occasions
Robert Orben, 1972.
Doubleday & Company
ISBN: 0-385-23488-0

Comedy Juggling
Rich Chamberlin, 1981.
International Jugglers Association

Dr. Dropo's Comic Juggling Routines
Bruce Fife, 1985.
Java Publishing

How to Be a Goofy Juggler
Bruce Fife, 1989.
Java Publishing
ISBN: 0-941599-04-3

Be a Clown!
Turk Pipkin, 1989.
Workman Publishing
ISBN: 0-89480-347-6

These are primarily about stand-up, with some good analysis of some successful acts. I didn't find them particularly useful in trying to learn how to create a comedy variety act, but you might enjoy reading them.

Comic Lives
Betsy Borns, 1987.
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0-671-62620-5

How to Be a Stand-Up Comic
Richard Belzer, 1988.
Villard Books
ISBN: 0-394-56239-9

Stand-Up Comedy: The Book
Judy Carter, 1989.
Dell Publishing
ISBN: 0-440-50243-8

These are all quite a bit better, in my opinion, and include lots of practical suggestions and exercises. Look for them at bookstores and see if they cover what you're looking for. I'd particularly recommend Helitzer's book, and the 2 books by Perret.

How to Write and Sell Your Sense of Humor
Gene Perret, 1982.
Writer's Digest Books
ISBN: 0-89879-240-1

How to Hold Your Audience with Humor
Gene Perret, 1984.
Writer's Digest Books
ISBN: 0-89879-136-7

Comedy Writing Secrets
Melvin Helitzer, 1985.
Writer's Digest Books
ISBN: 0-89879-258-4

The Craft of Comedy Writing
Sol Saks, 1985.
Writer's Digest Books
ISBN: 0-89879-192-8

Comedy Writing for Television and Hollywood
Milt Josefsberg, 1987.
Harper and Row
ISBN: 0-06-096086-8

If anyone has any others they could recommend, I'd be interested in hearing about them.

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