Having written professionally for thirty-plus years, I’ve read dozens of books on “how to write.” They range from the sublime to the ridiculous, and only a relative few have been — and continue to be — helpful. Jerry Rannow’s delightful Writing Television Comedy is a welcome addition to my bookshelf, not because I’m interested in writing TV comedy but because it helps me WRITE — period! While the book does target the aspiring sitcom writer, it also offers valuable tips and inspiration for ALL writers.
I often struggle with so-called writer’s block, and Rannow’s book provides me with several different techniques for breaking through it. The chapter entitled Managing The Story Muscle is particularly helpful, but I can open the book almost at random and find a jump-start to get me going. Sometime’s it’s just a reminder, like: “So-called writer’s block is simply FEAR, but when you sit down and concentrate and focus on the story at hand, you erase that fear.” And sometimes I discover that the problem was in my plot, or a character wasn’t ringing true.
The book also reminds me of ways to look for the humorous aspects of life, because I frequently use humor in my own writing: in radio and TV spots, print ads, newspaper articles, and the novel I’m currently completing. So if you’re already a paid professional or still a wannabe writer, I highly recommend Jerry Rannow’s book. It really IS well worth the price, and a whole lot more!
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“Writing Television Comedy” is a well-written, articulate look at writing television comedy–AND it is downright hysterical! As a profressional critic and author, I find this to be one of the few “laugh out loud” books on the market–including those that are supposed to be comedy! Even if you ‘ve no plans to write for television (and especially if you were a fan of the 1970′s TV when comedy didn’t rely on sex and vulgarity to get laughs), the book is a great read. It’s filled with jokes, gags, anecdotes, excercises, examples and an insider’s look at the industry. And, yes, there are even a couple of stories of some of the hottest stars of the 70′s. If you are a writer, this is THE book to own. The information on its pages is invaluable whether you are a veteran or a novice writer. Rannow writes with depth, insight, authority and considerable wit. It is no wonder USC is recommending this book. I cannot help but add my voice to that recommendation–in the strongest terms possible. Buy this book. It will inspire, educate and entertain you!
This book not only gives you great insight into the art of t.v. sitcom writing, but gives you the encouragement you need to try it. Jerry’s experiences are related with humor and empathy, making the book a lot of fun to read. You’ll learn important lessons about the craft of comedy writing, and about the perseverance you need to succeed. Jerry teaches by example, and you’ll laugh out loud as you read about his years in Hollywood. By the end of the book, you’ll feel like you’ve been part of a sitcom writing team and that you “know the ropes.”