The Hero’s 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 Hero’s 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 Hero’s 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.

In Store Price: $AU24.00 
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ISBN: 1-9206-9988-0
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 265
Genre:  Non fiction





Author: Neville John Nickels
Imprint: Poseidon
Publisher: Poseidon Books
Date Published: December 2003
Language: English


The Hero’s Journey – 

A Reflection 

On Becoming a Comedian 

Neville John Nickels

MBA. M. Bus (Research) 

Queensland University of Technology 

Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements of the Degree of Masters of Business (Research)


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 ‘Hero’s Journey’ and humour conceptually compelling. …..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. …...Doctor Neville Meyers



“Joseph Campbell meets Stand-up Comic” might seem an arresting way to describe this enjoyable and pragmatic work.  But, on reflection, it’s 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.  Campbell’s 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 today’s 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.  Neville’s 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 2003


(Part Sample only)


This book explores how the narrative form of "The Hero’s 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 Hero’s Journey" of Mythology. "The Hero’s 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.




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