See also:
Humor Writing Intensive

Humor Writing

Humor Writing

Humor Writing is a 10-week workshop, which includes lectures, exercises, and the critiquing of student projects. It’s for beginners or anyone who wants to brush up on the fundamentals. Farther down, you can view a syllabus for this course.

Who doesn’t love the pleasure of literary laughter? We’re talking about essays, memoirs, articles, short stories, and novels that are humorous. It can be anything from a true story about the special hell of raising kids to a far-fetched tale of a would-be knight tilting at windmills. As Mark Twain says: The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.

Humorous prose writing requires all the hallmarks of good writing plus that X factor: being funny. Here you will learn about the various types of prose humor, as well as comedic techniques and how to market your work.

Whether you seek to write fiction or nonfiction, short or long, we’ll show you how to turn sentences into smiles.

About Humor Writing
Humor Writing

Having so many humor principles and techniques laid out in front of me gave me a broad palette I could play around with.

Jodi Lustig

writer

Upcoming Classes

Masks are not required, but we’ll provide masks for those who want them. We are no longer requesting proof of vaccination.

More Covid details

Price

Registration fee $25, paid once per term

See Payment Options

To register for a 10-Week course, you need to pay in full to guarantee your place in class. Or you can pay a $95 deposit plus a $25 registration fee (total $120) to temporarily hold your place, but tuition must be paid in full 10 business days before your class starts or you risk losing your spot.

10-Week

Syllabus

This course gives you a firm grounding in the basics of humor writing craft and gets you writing a short piece (or two) or a book. Course components:
     Lectures
     Writing exercises
     Workshopping of student projects (each student presenting work two times)

New York City/Zoom classes
The syllabus varies from teacher to teacher, term to term. Many topics will be similar to those covered in the Online classes.

Online classes 
Week 1
Introduction to Humor Writing: The secret formula to all humor . Exploration of various forms of prose humor writing—fiction, nonfiction, and in-between. Where to find humorous ideas. The elusiveness of humor.

Week 2
Principles of Humor: Exploration of the various techniques for achieving humor—exaggeration, juxtaposition, shock/surprise, extreme situations, sound/rhythm/wordplay, irony, attitude, absurdity. The various types of humor.

Week 3
People: Finding the stupidity in people. Round and flat characters. Showing vs. Telling. Methods for showing characters. Ridiculing groups of people.

Week 4
Structure: The basic structural techniques for humor—the rule of three, snowballing. Finding a major dramatic question. Shaping a beginning, middle, and end. Breaking the structural norms.

Week 5
Point of View/Voice: Point of view defined. Exploration of the various types of point of view. Voice defined. Exploration of the various types of voice. Tips for finding your voice.

Week 6
Description: Using the senses. Specificity. Techniques for creativity. Finding the right words. Merging description with point of view. Describing funny situations. Bad (but funny) descriptions.

Week 7
Dialogue: The importance of scene. Dialogue's illusion of reality. Quotation marks and tags. Stage directions. Summarized dialogue. Characterization through dialogue. Miscommunication. Not forcing it.

Week 8
Point and Pointlessness: Using humor to make a point. Using humor in pointless (but funny) ways.

Week 9
Precision: Hacking through the early stages. Zeroing in on the perfect words and achieving economy. Strengthening the humor techniques. Finding the peaks and valleys. Testing out the humor.

Week 10
The Business: Proper format for manuscripts. How to target publishing houses, magazines, newspapers, and agents. How to send your work out. Query letters.

Note: Content may vary among individual classes.

Teachers

David Yoo
David Yoo

David Yoo is the author of the young adult novels Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before (Hyperion) and Girls for Breakfast (Delacorte), the middle grade novel The Detention Club (Balzer + Bray), and the essay collection The Choke Artist (Grand Central). He has published short stories and nonfiction in Massachusetts Review, Rush Hour, Maryland Review, and the anthology Guys Write for Guys Read (Viking). He is also a columnist for KoreAm Journal. He has taught at Pine Manor College, Eckerd College, and CU-Boulder. He holds a BA from Skidmore College and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Colorado-Boulder.

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Nelsie Spencer
Nelsie Spencer

Nelsie Spencer is the author of the novel The Playgroup, (St. Martin’s Press). She wrote the feature screenplay A Girl's Best Friend and co-wrote the feature film Valley Inn, which debuted at the Palm Beach International Film Festival. She wrote, produced, and co-hosted the radio show The Radio Ritas, (Greenstone Media) and hosts the podcast Losing It. She co-wrote and starred in the play My Heart Belongs To Daddy, produced at the Pittsburgh Public Theater and Duke University’s Pre-Broadway series. She performed her one-woman show Day of the Dead Daddy at the Chain Theatre in New York City, at the Denver Fringe Festival, and it won an honorable mention in Solo Fest at the Marsh Theater in San Francisco. She studied dance and theater at Orange Coast College, and fiction at The New School.

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