Using examples from Chaplin to Seinfeld, Aristophanes to Woody Allen, Horton describes comedy as a perspective rather than merely as a genre and then goes on to identify the essential elements of comedy. His lively overview of comedy's history traces its two main branches--anarchistic comedy and romantic comedy--from ancient Greece through contemporary Hollywood, by way of commedia dell'arte, vaudeville, and silent movies. Television and international cinema are included in Horton's analysis, which leads into an up-close review of the comedy chemistry in a number of specific films and television shows.
The rest of the book is a practical guide to writing feature comedy and episodic TV comedy, complete with schedules and exercises designed to unblock any writer's comic potential. The appendices offer tips on networking, marketing, and even producing comedies, and are followed by a list of recommended comedies and a bibliography.
Reviews"Andy Horton's latest book is not only refreshing, insightful, and effortlessly scholarly; it's also imbued with that rare quality so lacking in its field--a shameless sense of fun."--Herschel Weingrod, screenwriter (Trading Places, Twins, Space Jam, Kindergarten Cop)
"Andy Horton does a masterful job of explaining the inexplicable--the elusive principles of comedy. The book is a celebration of those who have mined for humor in the most barren landscapes and struck gold. Horton emphasizes the importance of laughing in the face of adversity. These are more than good rules for writing. These are good rules for living."--Barbara Hall, screenwriter (Northern Exposure, I'll Fly Away, Chicago Hope)