Book Reviews

Slapstick Encyclopedia

Slapstick Encyclopedia

Slapstick EncyclopediaEditorial review of Slapstick Encyclopedia courtesy of Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com  A veritable gold mine of rarities and little-known treats, Slapstick Encyclopedia lives up to its title as a stupendous compendium of silent-era comedy. Spanning the entire spectrum of slapstick from 1909 to 1927, this definitive collection (curated by film historians David Shepard and Joe Adamson) dutifully credits Keystone Cops creator Mack Sennett as the founder of the slapstick phenomenon. But it reaches far beyond Sennett (who alienated most of his popular stars) to acknowledge nearly every major and minor slapstick star and style. The development of slapstick, which had its roots in vaudeville, is witnessed chronologically, mixing the manic pie-fight sensibility of Sennett’s Keystone hits with the lesser-known, more sophisticated parlor-room comedy of Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Drew, while legendary black vaudevillian Bert Williams plies his popular trade in a Biograph short from 1916. (more…)

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The Ultimate Balloon Book - 46 projects

The Ultimate Balloon Book

The Ultimate Balloon Book - 64 projects to blow up, bend and twistThe Ultimate Balloon Book: 46 projects to Blow Up, Bend & Twist, by Shar Levine & Michael Ouchi

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The Ultimate Balloon Book: 46 Projects
 is a very good book, which lives up to its’ title — it includes 64 projects, made with 1 or more balloon animals. Okay, maybe it’s not the ‘Ultimate’ balloon book, but it is very nice. In a nutshell, it combines the best elements from two other balloon animal books ‘series’ —  Aaron Hsu-Flanders‘ books, which are heavy on step-by-step photographs, but short, and  Captain Visual’s  longer, more detailed books, which rely heavily on line art. The Ultimate Balloon Book falls in the middle of these two quite nicely. At  96 pages, it’s  much longer  than Hsu-Flanders’ books, but doesn’t attempt to be the one-volume encyclopedia of twisting of Captain Visual. It does include dozens of color photographs, typically showing the finished creation, as well as numerous diagrams showing the construction of each creation. It also includes a difficulty rating for each creation, from 1 (easy) to 5 (challenging). (more…)

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Dewey's Gospel Balloon Routines #2

Dewey’s Gospel Balloon Routines #2

Dewey's Gospel Balloon Routines #2Dewey’s Gospel Balloon Routines, volume 2

Buy from Amazon.com This book is a compilation of Ralph Dewey’s “Good News Balloons” columns from Christian Conjurer magazine, edited and supplemented by new material. It’s a very nice resource, which I recommend to balloon workers, caring clowns or clown ministers. Although it’s much longer that the first book in the series, like all of Ralph Dewey’s books, it’s more of a pamphlet (32 pages) than a book (more…)

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Dewey's Gospel Balloon Routines #1

Dewey’s Gospel Balloon Routines #1

Dewey's Gospel Balloon Routines #1Dewey’s Gospel Balloon Routines #1, by Ralph Dewey

Buy from Amazon.com Paperback (August 1977) As is normal for Ralph Dewey, this is more of a pamphlet than a book. It’s typewritten, with clear, hand-drawn illustrations. A few points of note: first off, it’s a fairly short pamphlet — only 13 pages. Conversely, it’s only $6.35 at the time of this writing. It’s well done, with examples of gospel balloons ranging from standard balloon creations, like a bee, with the message “Bee saved!” written on it, as part of an entire presentation of the gospel, using balloons as object lessons. (more…)

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Captain Visual's Big Book of Balloon Art! : A Complete Book of Balloonology for Beginners and Advanced Twisters by Captain Visual

Captain Visual’s Big Book of Balloon Art!

Captain Visual's Big Book of Balloon Art! : A Complete Book of Balloonology for Beginners and Advanced Twisters by Captain VisualCaptain Visual’s Big Book of Balloon Art! : A Complete Book of Balloonology for Beginners and Advanced Twisters by Captain Visual

Dimensions (in inches): 1.26 x 10.81 x 8.61
Buy from Amazon.com A personal favorite; the best one-volume book on balloon animals available. Well-written, with clear line art illustrating every major balloon creation through each step. It covers the basics, addresses the creation of simple balloon art (including the ever-popular dog, and the dozen variations you’d expect), moving on to more complex balloons, and ending with complex creations such as the 5-balloon bicycle pictured on the cover, as well as ‘Dippy Duck’ and some other nearly-famous cartoon creations. It’s interspersed with various good advice on the practical side of the business, as well as on the creative, dealing with crowds, where & how to perform, etc. (more…)

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Finding your funny bone

Finding Your Funny Bone! The Actor’s Guide to Physical Comedy And Characters

Product Description of Finding Your Funny Bone! The Actor’s Guide to Physical Comedy And Characters – by Nancy Gold

Finding your funny boneFinding Your Funny Bone! is a how-to approach to creating comedy, geared to you. Comedy knows no bounds. It is the sweet smile that makes your life more enjoyable.
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Some people are naturals . . . they have the gift. Others need a little guidance. Either way, these games, exercises, improvisations, and clown entrees will enrich you both on the performance level and within yourself.

Explore, experiment, and enjoy the arts of:

  • mime
  • masks
  • movement
  • clowning
  • juggling
  • improvisation
  • acting

as you discover your silly stupid side. Then create the combination of these tools that works for you. It takes a great deal of courage, intelligence, and grace to be funny. Comedy is a serious business. Be funny now! (more…)

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Compassionate Laughter: Jest for Your Health, by Patty Wooten, R.N.

Compassionate Laughter: Jest for Your Health

Compassionate Laughter: Jest for Your Health, by Patty Wooten, R.N.Compassionate Laughter: Jest for Your Health, by Patty Wooten, R.N.

Buy from Amazon.com I’€™m not a doctor, and I don’t play one on TV, either. I’m not a nurse (my mother is), nor a respiratory therapist (two of my brothers are); however, I enjoyed this book enormously anyway!

In short, it is a book for health care providers on how to clown, inject humor, and in short “lighten up” at work. It’€™s excellent not only for health care professionals, but also for people who do caring clowning (clowning at hospitals, nursing homes, etc.) and is well worth reading by any clown (or health care professional who wants to add the benefits of “a merry heart does good like a medicine” to their repertoire). (more…)

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Handbook For The Magical Party Clown - Promotions, Routines, Balloons, Props & Gags, Everything You Need to Know by Donald Sminkey

Handbook for the Magical Party Clown

Handbook For The Magical Party Clown - Promotions, Routines, Balloons, Props & Gags, Everything You Need to Know by Donald SminkeyHandbook For The Magical Party Clown – Promotions, Routines, Balloons, Props & Gags, Everything You Need to Know by Donald Sminkey

Paperback – 148 pages (January 7, 1991)

Buy from Amazon.com A wonderful book, but aimed at a particular audience: clowns who perform at parties. It does not cover clowning, clown make up, character development, or anything related. (I recommend Creative Clowning for a good starting point). Likewise, it does not teach how to perform magic tricks, and assumes that you already have a basic knowledge of these two arts. However, if that description fits you, it is worth its’ weight in gold. (more…)

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Clown Ministry Handbook

Clown Ministry Handbook

Clown Ministry Handbook by Janet LitherlandClown Ministry Handbook by Janet Litherland

Buy from Amazon.com Arguably, The book on clown ministry. An excellent resource on gospel clowning (it’s not focusing intently on creating make-up or other “clown” activities, but rather how the clown becomes a gospel clown). An excellent resource with several skits as well as interviews with several gospel clowns across the country. (more…)

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Everything New and Who's Who in Clown Ministry

Everything New and Who’s Who in Clown Ministry

Everything New and Who's Who in Clown MinistryBook description of Everything’s New and Who’s Who in Clown Ministry,  with 75 skits for special events – by Janet Litherland
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The author of the first complete text on clown ministry is back by popular demand with this follow-up book. Clown ministry has grown, changed and flourished in the decade-plus since its inception. This book updates through inspirational features and dynamic new material. Part I – Who’s Who contains profiles on the “movers and shakers” in the clown ministry field, including “Where are they now?” looks at clowns featured in The Clown Ministry Handbook. Veteran clown ministers from America and abroad share performance tips and anecdotes, their philosophies of clown ministry and more. “Before and after” photographs (with clown makeup and without) and other illustrations add a delightful dimension to the clowns’ stories. Part II – Everything New contains seventy-five clown skits for all the traditional holidays and a few untraditional ones as well, such as Good Neighbor Day, National Procrastination Week and even National Nothing Day! Some contain spoken dialog and some are pantomimed. Skits are included for any number of clowns, from one to a whole troupe. Prop lists and production notes accompany each skit. Contains a wealth of fresh, funny material.

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