Your Seventh Sense

Jack Thompson
7 min readJul 25, 2021

How to Think Like a Comedian, by Karyn Ruth White & Jay Arthur

Will your eighth sense be to pass on the book? Find out below… eventually.

This book’s a bit different in teaching comedy skills.

It’s…it’s… dare I say it?

Ok, large intake of breath, don’t forget to exhale at some point, not only to live, but to continue your existence to see my revelatory next point.

Which, I’ve now lost the momentum for.

A tip then, for would be humour writers; don’t stifle a potentially funny line with a big build up. You want to be as quick as possible. Within reason.

On hearing that, leave any odd thoughts aside and let us move on, back to the point.

And breathe out.

Dare I say it? This book isn’t just a bit different, it’s quite unique.

There, I said it. Quite unique.

A complete fail from a grammatical perspective. As my dad taught us more than once, you can’t qualify uniqueness.

Now, ignoring all the other grammatical fails in this piece, because I don’t have the skills to acknowledge them, is this book unique?

A reasonable chunk of the book is about NLP and its use in comedy.

What is NLP?

For those who don’t know, it was very hot in the early, mid 00s. Not talked about so much anymore, like a lot of trendy things; falling from fashion for as many reasons as it arrived by.

Those reasons are…I have no idea. Probably marketers found it no longer as lucrative, so they moved on.

If you’re still reading this ramble, NLP stands for Neural Linguistic Programming.

Sounds complicated.

Not really. All it really means is copying people. And children have to study NLP to learn to talk, of course.

No wonder it fell out from public attention.

What NLP really means is:

I don’t know. It means something. In this instance, it’s about adopting the habits of highly successful comedians.

The book treads quite deeply into NLP, so deeply, that it leaves a page with contact details for the associated author at the back, for you to learn more. That’s very deep.

There is a vague attempt at a book review here somewhere, I promise.

Before I get into it, another thing about the book is that it has two authors.

Karyn Ruth White; speaker, author, comedian & humour class teacher. Jay Arthur; speaker, NLP master practitioner, author & KnowWare® Man (presumably, without him, this book would have gone nowhere).

Now that the laughs have died down, the review is directly below.

The book devotes around the first 1/3 of its length to getting into the right mindset. It doesn’t end up being too drawn out, as the text is quite short overall.

And unlike other books with similar intros on ‘why to use humour and where’, this book leans on the NLP premise.

That means specific exercises you can do to help notice funny things. It asks you to pay more attention to people you find funny and comedians that inspire you. The aim is to step into their shoes and find more laughs in everyday situations.

You do that by channelling, with a number of points included on how to start a Seventh Sense journal.

For those who follow along, that will give you some things to write about, with you luckier ones finding a friend to enjoy the process together.

Talk about friends with benefits.

The things you’re asked to write about aren’t too tasking. It’s about noticing and being more aware of funny things and finding more amusement in daily occurrences.

For those who enjoy writing and exploring ideas, you’ll probably quite enjoy the homework assignments inside these pages.

What will doing the exercises bring you?

Well, the book is funny, metaphorically speaking. It mentions once or twice it won’t make you a comedian, while it asks you to think like them, then takes you through a — somewhat limited — joke writing process…

Still, you get a brief overview of putting together material. That is, getting ideas together and forming lines, with examples from the author and those from one of her classes to guide you.

The two professionals approach comedy from different angles. When they come together, will there be an explosion? And if there is, with the book caught in it, will you be able to get a refund on your melted Kindle?

The book moves on to refining what you’ve written, with some techniques, and a vague look at a few formulas to get you firing.

Will that be on all cylinders?

It’s up to you. There’s enough here to get things down, with hints and advice on improving what you create, which is sure to aid in crafting some usable material (on that topic, I’ll try the ideas here and put some jokes together below, as a bonus).

In this book, the way to start coming up with material is lists. This will help you bring out ideas on broad topics and narrow down to find different associations.

If you’re unfamiliar with the technique, reading Your Seventh Sense will give you White’s spin on it. It’s a pretty well known comedy concept, but if you don’t know about using lists for humour, open up the pages and find out.

If you struggle to come up with anything, have another read of the examples. Author Karyn Ruth White’s quite encouraging, with no doubt in her mind, that given sufficient intelligence and desire, anyone can learn this.

So that’s good.

Hopefully by this stage you’ve come up with some material you’ll want to try out. The next parts of the book deal with that.

There’s bit of performance advice; before stepping on stage and what to do after. Then when you’re ready to deliver your material, there’s a short bit on getting in the zone.

There’s some information about your comic attitude, about timing, hecklers, tips on bombing, and what to do about offending people. Not much on each, but all good solid advice to take onboard.

On timing, the authors believe defiantly that it can be learned. You’ll have to practice at it and work on it, with timing being more natural to some than others, but it’s something everyone can manage.

According to the authors. I won’t offer such a guarantee.

Getting towards the end, there are handy tips on preparing for a presentation, with notes of some mistakes you might want to avoid.

Or you could try them out to test the waters.

The final pages are quite throwaway, with a feel they exist to pad out a quite short page count.

But there is one last bit of good advice. That’s the reminder that if you want to succeed in comedy, then you have to continue through adversity.

Verdict

It’s quite useful, this one.

Forgetting the NLP guise for a moment, the book encourages something very important, which is, to get good at something, it really helps to study people who are very good at their craft.

With that, the book also gives you some way to create and refine material.

Recommended for:

Becoming the comedian.

Getting started writing jokes for use on an audience.

Not for:

Learning a joke writing process in depth.

Length

176 pages, but really it’s considerably shorter.

The majority of left hand pages are jokes in enormous size font, either those of the author, or other famous comedians.

Pages 175 & 176 are the same sheet, an order form for more copies of the book, proving the jokes in this text go right the way to the back cover.

Take out all those extra pages, you’re around 100 pages of text (more than enough to be informative).

That means quicker readers will be through the book in a day or two.

Slower, dedicated readers, probably around a week.

Bonus

News from Google on Sunday, 25/07/21

An Uber Eats driving mom wins $250,000 in the lottery

When she knew she’d won, she was in her car going crazy. And imagine the person waiting for their delivery.

An Uber Eats driving mom wins $250,000 in the lottery

Tickets or scratch off? She changed her mind at the last moment. She was going for the tickets, then thought… scratch that.

An Uber Eats driving mom wins $250,000 in the lottery

She wants to withhold her identity and left nothing to go on. The only clue people had was seeing her drive away, the oversized cheque hanging out a partially closed door and hearing screams of delight.

An Uber Eats driving mom wins $250,000 in the lottery

She wants to remain anonymous. And so she’ll get her wish. No way of telling which of their drivers was doing wheelies — in a 4X4.

An Uber Eats driving mom wins $250,000 in the lottery

She’s staying anonymous. And the next customer wasn’t aware, until they took the order and smelled the delicious aroma of driveway donuts.

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Jack Thompson

Writes serious book reviews. Other ideas in the works.