Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Comedy!

While other books give you tips on how to “write funny,” The Hidden Tools of Comedy offers a paradigm shift in understanding the mechanics and art of comedy itself, and the proven, practical tools that help writers translate that understanding into successful, commercial scripts. Steve Kaplan unlocks the unique secrets and techniques of writing comedy, deconstructing sequences in popular films and television to show when comedy works, when it doesn’t, and why.

U.S. Residents only–Click button below;


*Non-U.S. Residents email us at


“I’ve always been told – and have told others – funny can’t be taught. After reading Steve Kaplan’s thoughtful, informative and yes, funny book – I stand corrected. A great read for anyone wanting to break into the comedy game. And for those already in the game, a breezy, welcome jolt of education and inspiration.”
Peter Tolan, The Larry Sanders Show, Rescue Me, Analyze This

“Fresh insights with a ‘why didn’t I think of that’ on every page. Steve Kaplan is a true comedy maven. Don’t know what that is? Read this book, and you will. You may even turn into one yourself.”
Ellen Sandler, co-Executive Producer: Everybody Loves Raymond; author: The TV Writer’s Workbook

“I rarely think about why something I’m working on is funny. I’m usually just fixated on the fact that it’s not funny enough. So it was interesting to look at it from such a thoughtful perspective. I started reading the book expecting to be merely amused, but what I found was a rigorous deconstruction of what makes comedy. Steve takes this ephemeral topic and reduces it to tangible terms that are both practical and illuminating. Oh, and it’s funny. Which is useful when you’re talking about comedy.”
David Crane, Creator and Executive Producer: Friends, Episodes

I’ve been a comedy writer for years, and thanks to Steve, I now know all the things I was doing wrong. Steve understands the inner workings of comedy like no one else. I consider him the Steven Hawking of Comedy. He’ll break down what seems vast and unknowable, into understandable parts. It’s like he explains comedy on a sub-atomic level. And he talks funny. You are so smart to buy this book. It’s a great resource for anyone who wants to better understand comedy. But be careful: it will make you a better comedy writer, which I resent a little, as you’ll be after my job one day. So be it. Some of my favorite pages are 23, 106, 132, and 225. Enjoy! They say comedy can’t be taught. Steve Kaplan proves them wrong.
Laura House, comic and writer on The George Lopez Show, Samantha Who?, Mom

“Steve Kaplan is a master when it comes to comedy. In his new book, The Hidden Tools of Comedy, Steve gives you an inside look at how comedy works from the world view of the character; the truth that comedy presents; and the idea that the more the character knows, the less comic it is. All of these ideas and more made it a book that I didn’t want to put down. The knowledge he imparts is a true gift to every writer, executive, and person that has a desire to know what makes humor work.”
Jen Grisanti, story/career consultant; writing instructor for Writers on the Verge; author: Story Line and Change Your Story, Change Your Life

The Hidden Tools Of Comedy proves what I’ve said for years — no one on this planet understands the principles of comedy more than Steve Kaplan. If they gave out degrees in comedy writing, Steve would have an MD, JD, and PhD.”
Derek Christopher, President, TV/Film Seminars & Lighthouse Blues Productions

“Steve Kaplan has discovered, refined, and sustained more stand-up, playwriting, TV and film writing careers — and without any of the credit he deserves. There simply is no God if he doesn’t receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor himself. God, are you listening? Oh well. Steve: Thank you for discovering me and being responsible for launching my career. Everyone else: BUY THIS BOOK.”
Will Scheffer, Co-Creator and Executive Producer: Big Love and Getting On

“Whether you’re a performer, director, or writer, this is the best, most entertaining and practical book I’ve ever read on the art, theory, and mechanics of comedy.”
David Fury, writer/producer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, Fringe, Terra Nova

“Steve Kaplan’s approach to comedy is both practical and artful. His years of experience working with comedy writers have created techniques that can help anyone craft a joke and find the funny. Written with the warmth and humor he brings to his in-person classes, this book is a must-read for the aspiring writer or comic whose desire is to make people laugh… and also make them think.”
Pilar Alessandra, Director of the On the Page Screenwriting Program; author: The Coffee Break Screenwriter

“Steve Kaplan’s The Hidden Tools of Comedy is a testament to how effective his comedic tools are. The book is funny. But in addition to being entertaining, it offers invaluable information about creating comedic material. Up until now no one has been able or willing to deconstruct the principles of how to be funny. It’s always been shrouded in vagueness: you just have to be born funny or you either get it or you don’t. With concrete examples Steve’s book gives you a step-by-step approach to understanding what the heart of comedy is and how to achieve it. Every writer, producer or performer who wants to tackle the business of being funny should read this book first. It’ll save you hours of frustration as you start to create a comedy or fix one that’s not working. The Hidden Tools of Comedy will give you inspiration and hope. You don’t have to be born funny in order to work in comedy, you just need to know and use these tools.”
— Carole Kirschner, Executive Director, CBS Diversity Writers Mentoring Program; author: Hollywood Game Plan

“If you want to make money with laughter… this book is no joke!”
Dov S-S Simens, Dov Simens’ Two-Day Film School

“I’ve known Steve Kaplan for many years, going all the way back to the days of the HBO Workspace (what a great adventure that was!) and I have always known him to be keenly intent upon making every moment count … Working with him was great, taking his intensive workshop was fascinating, but this book is truly amazing and inspired. On almost every page I am stimulated with new and fresh ideas for my writing and my directing. And now I know I cannot (must not) venture into any other project (whether comedic or dramatic) without once again referring to The Hidden Tools Of Comedy.”
Mark W. Travis, director, consultant, author: Directing Feature Films and The Film Director’s Bag of Tricks

“I don’t know if comedy can be taught, but if anybody can do it, it’s KAPLAN!”
Jack Kenny, Executive Producer: Warehouse 13

“Steve Kaplan has been serious about comedy for as long as I’ve know him, which is at least 30 years. He’s the only comedy guy I know who’s been wholly dedicated not only to the art and craft of comedy, but also to the teaching of it. He’s a lover of it, he’s a student of it, he’s an expert. In his book, The Hidden Tools of Comedy, Steve goes in depth, getting into the heart of what makes things funny, what makes someone funny. He breaks it down, from the fundamentals of what comedy is, to its emotional and logical cores, to the delicate balance between skill and talent. He explores tools that anyone and everyone can use in the creation of anything comedic. He presents it so that it’s not a mystery, or something for ‘other people.’ He goes surprisingly deep and is extraordinarily specific. It’s about time a book like this was written. No matter what experience you’ve had, The Hidden Tools of Comedy is a must-read for anyone interested in writing, directing or performing comedy. I’ve earmarked dozens of pages and can’t wait to put what I’ve learned into practice.”
Risa Bramon-Garcia, Director, Producer, Casting Director, Teacher Roseanne, Natural Born Killers, The BGB Studio in LA

“A great teacher is someone who knows their subject and knows how to teach it. Steve Kaplan knows comedy and he knows how to teach it and this is what makes his book an invaluable tool for anyone who wants to use comedy to entertain. Kaplan is to comedy as Toto was to Oz. He shows you exactly what is going on behind the curtain and how to use all the levers to create the magic. And since he is a gifted comic on top of being an incisive scholar, his book is not only incredibly informative, it is also funny and fun to read.”
Gil Bettman, director, Professor of Film, Chapman University; author: First Time Director

“If you are serious about comedy, you must read this book. Kaplan has detailed in easy to understand terms how to make comedy work. This book is no joke — it is the real thing. It should be required reading for actors, writers and anyone involved in the comedy business, from beginners to seasoned veterans. They will all learn something from his insight.”
Paul Caplan-Bennett, PB Management; Past President, Talent Managers Association

“You can learn comedy—and this book can really help you. It’s practical, accessible, and pretty darn entertaining.”
Michael Bloom, Artistic Director, Cleveland Playhouse; author: Thinking Like a Director

“Sometimes when somebody dissects something (is that alliterate or illiterate?), the magic dissipates into the ether. This is not the case with comedian-teacher Steve Kaplan’s book, The Hidden Tools of Comedy. You’ll smile or even laugh out loud as you read every page outlining how to sharpen your literary implements and hack your way through the world of comedy. While humor does come naturally to some (but in my family, we don’t make nose jokes), everyone can learn the joy of making other people giggle. What a gift to the world!”
Mary J. Schirmer, screenwriter-instructor

“Clarity served with humor; what better way to learn the art of comedy? Steve gets to the heart of our funny bone, so you can give life to your comedies that will leave your audience in stitches.”
Ann Baldwin, screenwriter

“Everything you need to be a comedy writer except the searing self-doubt, crippling anxiety, and suffocating social awkwardness.”
Chad Gervich, writer/producer: Dog With a Blog, After Lately, Cupcake Wars; author: Small Screen, Big Picture

“An Irishman, a Jew, and an Italian walk into a bookstore… and they all buy this book! Useful, true, and very illuminating.”
Brian Rose, Professor of Theater, Adelphi University

17 Responses to The Hidden Tools of Comedy

  1. Derek Short says:

    Can I buy this on Amazon Kindle?

  2. Diana says:

    Aw, this was a very nice post. Taking the time and actual effort
    to generate a great article… but what can I say… I procrastinate
    a whole lot and never manage to get anything done.

    My blog post: party tent rentals des moines ia

  3. shah (singapore) says:

    Hi Steve,
    Your book is the first book I’ve read cover to cover in a long time.
    An enjoyable read and informative, funny and instructional…not all at the same time.
    Thanks for dissecting something so esoteric into easy bite sized bits.(wow i used a metaphor)
    Thanks a million.


  4. Christian Riedel says:


    is there a way to buy your book outside the us?

    So interested…

  5. Peter Bradshaw says:

    I live in Dublin, Ireland. Just bought from Having attended Comedy Intensive it was great to get the book as a follow on.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I received this book today as a Christmas gift. I’m already laughing and I only read the introduction.

  7. First of all I would like to say fantastic blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask
    if you don’t mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself
    and clear your head prior to writing. I have had a difficult time clearing my mind in getting my
    thoughts out there. I do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first
    10 to 15 minutes are usually lost just trying to figure out how to begin.
    Any ideas or hints? Kudos!

    my page – Swamp Attack Cheat

    • admin says:

      There’s no one way to do it. 10 to 15 minutes centering yourself sounds as good a way as any to start. Some people like to write in a journal as a way to get going, but as the great sportswriter Red smith once said, ” There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.’

  8. Patrick McKenna says:

    Hi, I was hoping to buy your book – but I live in Canada. Is there any way to have it shipped up this way?


    Pat McKenna

    • admin says:

      Hi Patrick,
      International shipping is pricy–about $15 USD to Canada. I can still do it, but it might be more economical to buy through Amazon or B& If you want to buy through me, email me directly at

  9. Heya just wanted tto give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading correctly.
    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show
    the same results.

    my web blog Swamp Attack Hack iOS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>