“The Comedy Bible” Quotes (3/3)

This is part 3 of 3 of quotes from The Comedy Bible by Judy Carter. Here is part 1 and part 2.

  • “I fell into the trap of equating fame with success. For so many years I felt like a failure. It didn’t matter if I got a standing ovation, had a great writing day, or even pulled in some big bucks doing comedy – I wasn’t a household name. It took me a long time to realize that success is a state of mind. My critical voice that nagged, “But you don’t have a sitcom,” quieted down as I started focusing on small triumphs – like finding a great premise, writing new material, having a great set. Today I enjoy my career. Only about 1 percent of comics are famous, yet there are a lot of us out there making a fine living from the road, corporate gigs, TV appearances, writing for other comics, speaking, and of course, writing books. Enjoy where you are – today.” (276) 
  • “Whether you want to write comedy or perform it, getting good is a daily challenge, and you have to work at it all the time. It’s not something you do when you feel creative. It’s something you do not matter what, even when you’re too busy, too tired, or too burnt out from your day job. You even do it when you’re recovering from plastic surgery. Why? Because that’s what it takes to get good.” (282) 
  • “You have to work on new material and new scripts every day.” (283) 
  • “Be willing to throw out material – even if it kills. If you get a chunk that kills and you do it every show, soon you will depend on that piece. You may even become frightened to perform without it. Take a courageous step and toss it out for a few months, to make room for another piece to add to your stockpile of killer material.” (283) 
  • “Comics with smart material but amateurish stage presence are called writers. If you want to be successful as a comic, get on stage, on any stage, as much as you can.” (284)
  • “No matter how talented and funny you are, if you don’t spend your waking hours asking, “How can I improve my craft?” chances are you will spend the rest of your life asking, “Would like to hear our specials today?” (288) 
  • “Whether you are a comedy writer or a stand-up, in order to stand out it is essential that you distinguish yourself by magnifying your brand of comedy – your identity, your image, your persona. It’s not a cerebral decision you make about yourself. It’s who you are—exaggerated times ten.” (293) 
  • “In order to stand out from the pack, evaluate yourself.
    1. What are your signature jokes? (Usually the jokes that get the biggest response.)
    2. What type of audience do you feel most comfortable in front of (corporate types, college students, women, gays, Italians)/
    3. What article of clothing suits you best? Rodney Dangerfield wears a rumpled coat and tie, giving him that “I don’t get no respect” look.
    4. Create an ad for your act that sums up what you do and targets your audience. What name would you give your show? Sandra Bernhard’s stand-up show was called Without You I’m Nothing. This summed up the tone of her show. Six of my students got together and came up with Six-Pack of Comedy and had a clever flyer with their pictures on a six-pack of beer. What kind of pictures would you have in the ad? Can you come up with a one-sentence phrase that sums you up?” (296) 
  • “Not everyone will love what you do, but you need to find the people who will.” (299) 
  • “You are ready when you have developed some depth and character, and you can work any crowd. You have to bomb to succeed. Some comics spend all their time honing a ten minute set that only works in New York. Then they go to Nashville, where their chunk on subways doesn’t work because Nashville doesn’t have subways. You have to know how to work all the states. The road is like college and you need it like an education.” – Rocky LaPorte (313)

Have you read the book and think I missed something important? Do you want me to try to explain any of the quotes above in more detail? Let me know via the comments. I read all of them and respond to 99%.

3 Replies to ““The Comedy Bible” Quotes (3/3)”

  1. Hi!

    I just found your 3 posts about The Comedy Bible quotations.
    I thank you a lot for the time you spent for us highlighting the best parts.

    I’m planning to have a look on the book anyway but right now this will help me.

    Thanks again

  2. Hey, Ben –

    I’m a so-called “content speaker” – I speak for business audiences on how to improve their marketing and sales. Even though they always say what they care most about is practical, easy-to-use tips for their business, I think the reason I always do well on the “smile sheets” is that I make a big effort to keep it entertaining, and to make it memorable by using lots of amusing personal stories. I had a feeling if I knew something about comedy, it would help me a lot to improve my programs. But I hadn’t gotten around to doing the research to find out if there were books about the craft of comedy (a opposed to books by comedians, which I didn’t think would help much).

    I read and really liked your article in fear.less last month, and was impressed with how thoughtful and clearly considered it was. So I came here to check out your website.

    I want to thank you for posting your excerpts from the books you’ve read. How very generous of you to take the time! I’ve read through several of them, and really, REALLY found this one helpful, so before I went on to the res, I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate it.

    And am inspired by it. Like you, I do a lot of reading in my field, and have felt it would be helpful to my site visitors if I published brief book reviews so they could stay abreast of new work in the field.

    I think I will still do that on LinkedIn, but for my site, I think your approach is better. Your readers get not only an overview of what books you find valuable, but also, with your intelligent “curatorship (?)” we get the best ideas fast. For those of us who, like me, might have all the best intentions of reading the whole book, but can’t ever find the time to get around to it, this is a god-send.

    Thank you again!

    Warm Regards,
    Marti Barletta

  3. Hey Marti,

    Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad you found the quotes useful. If you like the book quotes, I suggest reading the full book as my opinion of what’s “important” is probably biased based on what I already know/have read.

    That said, I understand where you’re coming from as I would probably read 1-2 pages of marketing quotes before reading a full book 🙂


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