Start Smiling: I’m Teaching Humor Writing in January

posted in: Word Nerd, Work 3
Dog with a pipe, c. 1933. Photo: P.B. Avery via Wikipedia.


As most of you know, I have been teaching writing workshops and short-term classes at the University of Chicago’s Writers’ Studio for a couple years, now. My popular 4-week course in blogging wrapped up a few weeks ago and a group of my students are taking me out to lunch next week, which I take as a sign that they enjoyed themselves and learned stuff!

About a year ago, I was asked to pitch a new class for the winter term and I knew just what I wanted to teach. Here’s what I pitched and, indeed, what I’ll be teaching in a matter of weeks:

Humor Writing Survey — 6 weeks
Mondays, 10:00 – 12:30 p.m.
Jan. 8 – Feb. 19, 2018

Q: What do SNL writers, standups, New Yorker cartoonists, Thurber, Lebowitz, and Freud all have in common?
A: They’ve all spent a lot of time thinking about what makes people laugh. Now it’s our turn.

In this seminar/survey course, we will read humorous writing and respond to it: everything from TV scripts to stage monologues, from essays to short stories (and much more) in order to better understand the how of humor. You needn’t be a comedy-writing hopeful to take this class! This is a survey for anyone wishing to better appreciate — or emulate — the greats.

Expect guests: Chicago improv artists, standups, and other humorists with experience. You’ll generate work, too, and we may take a field trip.

Would someone pinch me? I get to hang out with a classroom of people interested in reading funny writing and talking about that writing? I get to assign homework to people willing to try and write, say, a piece of satire or burlesque? Yes! I do! I get to do that! And I also get to share all I’ve been learning about the history of humor writing over the ages. There’s a lot to say about it, I won’t be able to get to absolutely everything (and it is a new class, after all) but my interest and excitement is hard to measure.

The good news is that the class is already half full; the bad news is that the slots will go quickly. What if you miss it??

If you’re in Chicago and you can manage a six-week course on Monday mornings for a couple hours, you will not regret it. Because it’s going to be amazing. What a way to start the year, right?? Reading P.G. Wodehouse and excerpts from The American Bystander and talking about the difference between parody and irony?? Sounds like a good idea to me.

You can find info about the course right here.

I’ll see you downtown.