The Heros Journey
A Reflection on becoming a comedian
This paper makes its contribution by
developing a reflective practical model from a novel conceptualisation.
Specifically, the mythic narrative The Heros Journey is used to build
a reflection on the development of comic performers. This is informed by the
experiences of comic performers, including the author, and those reflected in
biographies of comedians and comic writers.
Jungian ideas in particular build a link between the Heros search for
fulfilment, and the acquisition of humour skills as experienced by humour
professionals. This enables users of humour to understand and practice their
craft in a more meaningful manner.
The implications of this model for humour theories are also discussed.
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Number of pages:
Genre: Non fiction
Publisher: Poseidon Books
Date Published: December 2003
The Heros Journey
Becoming a Comedian
M. Bus (Research)
University of Technology
in fulfilment of the requirements of the Degree of Masters of Business
Neville (Nifty) Nickels book shows that Australians have a
unique understanding of the how humour is a vital part of our lives. He uses his
own experience to illustrate how the comic personality develops and how we may
apply these principles to ourselves.
Pete Crofts Humourversity.
Neville Nickels has developed a pivotal work detailing the
development of the comic personality through reflection on his own experiences
and his understanding of humour. He has been both a practitioner and researcher
on humour for many years and brings some interesting insights into the study. I
have followed with interest the evolution of this project for the past several
years and find his linking of both the Heros Journey and humour
..Associate Professor Greg Hearn. PhD.
I have previously worked with Neville Nickels on humour research and have
found his unique approach invigorating. This book is accessible to both
academics and laypersons and not only provides us with a roadmap to our own
personal comic development, but raised issues for further investigation.
Joseph Campbell meets
Stand-up Comic might seem an arresting way to describe this enjoyable and
pragmatic work. But, on reflection,
its not as outré as might seem. As
far back as mediaeval times and the Feast of Fools, the nexus between
myth-making and just fooling around has been in existence.
Campbells work is foundational to this intriguing book, and it serves
to show that mythical narratives are largely universal in human culture. So it
is not surprising really to discover that the Laughing Buddha and the Holy Fool
have much in common, that todays suffering stand-up experiences in his
flame-out the same rejection and despair that tragic heroes learn from.
Neville Nickels sets out to
reveal the mythopoetic journey of self-knowledge that comic heroes and comedians
both must undergo. And he should
know: he has been there, done that.
Having watched this admirable little book grow towards the light in the
last few years, I confess to some tender maternal instincts for its welfare and
I hope readers will enjoy it as much as I did.
Nevilles originality of thought and concept, as well as his admirably
wide reading, are inspiring. He has
chosen to combine three notoriously vague and indeterminate fields, those of
comedy, myth and reflective praxis. Addressing
his own personal experiences, first as a budding and then a successful comedian,
his objectivity is hard-won and praiseworthy.
As a bonus to the journey with the comic hero, the reader will find
additional materials which are highly recommended as useful and practical tools
for other aspirants in the show-biz fields of comedy and comedy writing.
For a book which crosses the
boundaries between the practice and the study of comedy, look no further.
Jessica Milner Davis…Sydney…September
(Part Sample only)
This book explores how the narrative form of “The Heros
Journey” can be used to explain the development of comedic performers. As
well the book examines how this practical model of the development of humorists
can be applied to the practice of humour from the perspective of both the
performer and the writer.
The book will initially examine psychological, philosophical
and sociological writings on humour. This examination of the theoretical
literature enables the development of a picture of existing theoretical
constructs of humour. This will suggest the value of an investigation into the
observable characteristics of the Hero by reference to the theoretical
literature dealing with the Journey Journey within “The Heros
Journey” of Mythology. “The Heros Journey” will be detailed,
with specific reference to the persona of the Hero and will cover the steps that
have been identified by Joseph Campbell and others.
The importance of the development of new theory is that it
opens up previously unrecognised understanding of a situation or a group of
situations. As Gruner (1997) states, “Theories are neither true nor
false. They are merely more or less useful” (Gruner 1997,Gruner
(1997) p. 10). Theories assist inquiry into the nature of things and allow us to
understand our world and what makes it work. Theories are very useful to human
inquiry because they postulate how and why things are. They tell researchers
what to look for in order to see if the theory “fits reality”. . By
building a theory on the available evidence, we can devise a model of reality.
The usefulness of the practical model of humour developed from an examination of
the theory is that it develops further levels of comprehension of comedians,.
both from the point of view of comedians and their public.
The theoretical underpinnings of this book are diverse in
that they collate a number of theoretical understandings and combine them to
form a model that has practical application in the analysis of the work of
comedians and comedy writers. This study thus provides both a theoretical and
practical basis for the successful writing of comedy.
Throughout this book I use the generic he or his, but in no
way is there any sexist intent.