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Publisher's Summary

This entertaining and sharply written guide - for both beginners breaking into comedy and professionals seeking to improve their sets and advance their careers - examines the work of great comedians such as Louis C. K., Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Izzard, Moms Mabley, Hannibal Buress, Sarah Silverman, Richard Pryor, and more as a means of illustrating the most important techniques of performing and writing stand-up.  

Here, Stephen Rosenfield lays out a clear plan for achieving success, candidly explaining what works, what doesn't, and why. Including a 12-item "Successful Comedian's To-Do List," Rosenfield states, "Get undeniably good at each of these and you can kiss your day job good-bye. You will be a pro."

©2018 Stephen Rosenfield (P)2019 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"An absolutely essential instructional guide and reference for anyone aspiring to a career as a comedian." (Midwest Book Review)

What listeners say about Mastering Stand-Up

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  • Erich
  • 05-07-19

Brilliant

This book starts with short chapters on the kinds of comedy available to you as a standup. Then it goes into writing jokes. The advice is very good. It even has sections on being an MC and overcoming self-criticism. The writer is deeply knowledgeable and experienced. The book is right up to date, talking about YouTube and social media. Start with this book and if you like it, go on to Greg Dean and Judy Carter and the other great writers about comedy. If, like me, you’ve hit a slump in your comedy performing this inspiring book will jolt you from your lethargy. You’ll need more than a book to get “undeniably good”.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Robert Ö
  • 27-05-19

Great book! Very slow reader.

This book was great! I've worked with performing variety shows for a long time, and this gave me many clear direct tips for adding more comedy elements. My only critic was how very slow the reader spoke. I speed it up in the player and then it was no problem.

6 people found this helpful

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  • norissa aukerman
  • 27-10-20

If you want to be terrific, you have to be specific!

I’m not a comedian but I am interested in public speaking and I have been getting into sales training. I know that humor is an effective tool in communication. What I loved about this book is that it was very specific and gave amazing examples that I think will be very valuable to me professionally. It felt like a weekend retreat or a workshop or something. I think a course like this should cost $2500. That is what I love about audible, I can get valuable information and listen to it while I’m driving or working. The reading did feel a little slow so I just sped it up. That’s another thing I love about audible. 1.5 is a good speed. Thank you Mr. Rosenfield!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Denis Gorbunov
  • 21-12-20

boring bedtime storybook

no practical usage just memoirs of old mumbling man, observation mostly, no technics not much of teaching rather surface analysis

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sean T. Hughes
  • 24-07-20

Great stuff

This is a very good book for learning stand-up. I found a really good resource

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 22-04-20

Best book on stand up.

I’ve tried to get through several other books on stand up, and most of the time I find them preachy and restrictive. I don’t think anyone can tell an artist how to find their voice and be themselves, or tell them an exact process they need to go through. This book doesn’t try to do that, it gives great advice and sage wisdom. I’m on my second listen, thanks to COVID-19 and it really is an awesome audiobook.

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  • C.E.
  • 29-01-20

This guy is a comic? Monotoned reading!

This guy is really monotoned for a comic! Don't listen while driving! You might drive off the road falling asleep!

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  • Brian
  • 08-03-19

Great Book!

This is by far the best book" the ins and outs of stand-up comedy I've ever read. So much great information. I'll be referring to it over and over for the foreseeable future.

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  • Joe
  • 22-01-21

The bigotry to conservatives is blunt. Don’t waste the credit

Feels like a political rant. At times it is okay, but it could be 75% shorter and still get to the main points. If you want a left wing echo chamber, here it is.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 07-01-21

an excellent intro to the industry and the craft

I have to admit there were times that I didn't want to listen to his voice anymore, but this is an excellent primer especially about the industry. The bits on the art and writing are just enough without being too prescriptive.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 21-09-20

I wish I could get a hardback copy.

A few years ago I did around 10 open mic comedy nights over 6 months and gave up due to thinking I was just plain unfunny and a bad performer. This book has convinced and taught me to pick up the microphone again. I have recently done 2 gigs which went brilliantly well. Great overall view of stand up Really useful examples, really helps you to look at what good comedians are doing and breaking the mystery of joke writing. Encouraging, insightful and brilliantly detailed. Lots of information was right in the money. Stephens delivery was great too. I just wish I could have a hardback copy!

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  • Review¡¡¡
  • 13-08-20

A lifetimes worth of experience

For the low price of your monthly credit Stephen gifts you a lifetimes worth of experience. He doesn't write the material for you but gives you the tools to turn your own experience and viewpoint into a tight ten minutes of original material. Or if your a fan of comedy you get an extra level of appreciation of the art of comic oration. All for the price of a pint at your local comedy club.

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  • Ronaldo
  • 17-01-21

The Stand Up Bible

Being new to stand up as a performer I thought this book did a great job focusing on the key things someone like me need to focus on to be a good stand up. This book doesn’t make empty promises eg. “read this and you’ll instantly become a good comic”. What it gives are tried and true advice, with the emphasis on “if you do the work, the results will come”. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone working on being the best comic they can be.

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  • Alex.D
  • 11-08-20

Exactly what I was looking for!

This book was incredibly well written. This book will give you a perfect balance of the technical skills with real bits from real comedians both old and current. The performance by Stephen was not as charismatic as some of the voice actors I've heard in the past, although, I'm glad the author nerated the book.