I finished The Comic Toolbox and it has good stuff in it. I finished most of the exercises (skipping over the spec sitcom script outline and the editing of past work), and I found them useful. I feel like I’ve got a few structures I can use to hang ideas off of, and that’s farther along than I was before. Spoiler alert: you don’t simply pull spectacularly hilarious quips out of some roiling comic ether that you gain access to with the right magical phrase. That’s been surprisingly helpful for me to hear.
I don’t feel funny right now. I still don’t like the characters or concepts I came up with from the exercises. As I approached the end of the book, I worried that the gulf between me and funny stories had gotten wider, since I wasn’t finding much to like in what I produced. I know practice is key, but I felt like I needed something even more basic than the exercises to help me find my way to funny.
Then Vorhaus recommended starting a file for my “comic vocabulary.” It would consist of jokes, ideas, scenarios that I write and think are funny, but I don’t have a larger project to attach them to. I found this practice appealing. I’m not ready to commit to a comedic project, but I want to start exercising my comedy muscle. Adding a quota of funny things to the file each week would get me to think about what I find funny, and may even steer me to the kind of comic stories I want to write.
It’s a start.