Summer Writing Course | How to Write Funny


WRIT S4810
3 points
Instructor: Patricia Marx
For course schedule and location, please visit the School of Professional Studies summer site here.
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A workshop for funny people who want to write funnier,  un-funny people who want to write funny, and everyone else.  We will read, listen to, and watch comedic samples from well-known and semi-known humorists, including Mark Twain, James Thurber, S.J. Perelman, Dorothy Parker, Charles Portis, Ian Frazier, Paul Rudnick, Steve Martin, Woody Allen, Nora Ephron, Roz Chast, David Rakoff, Fran Lebowitz, Bruce Jay Friedman, Calvin Trillin, Dave Barry, Sloane Crosley, George Saunders, Donald Barthelme, Maria Semple, Monty Python, Key and Peele, Mitchell and Webb, French and Saunders, Nichols and May, Saturday Night Live (to name a few!)  Despite E.B. White’s analysis of humor analysis (“…like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it”), we will try to figure out why these works—and yours—succeed or fail to make us laugh.  There will be in-class exercises and weekly writing assignments.  Students already working on projects are welcome to develop them here.

Tuition & Fees
Students can review tuition and fees here.

Materials Fee: $20
For questions about School of the Arts summer courses, including those concerning admissions, registration, and billing, please contact the School of Professional Studies summer team at, or 212-854-9666. With questions about specific course content, please contact Writing Departmental Representative Dorothea Lasky at

About the Instructor


Patty Marx

Patricia Marx is a staff writer for the New Yorker and a former writer for Saturday Night Live and Rugrats.   Her two novels were Thurber Prize Finalists. Her children’s book Now Everybody Really Hates Me was the first and only winner of the Friedrich Medal, an award made up by Marx and named after her air-conditioner.  She was the first woman on the Harvard Lampoon and is a recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship.  She has taught at Princeton, Columbia, Stony Brook, and New York University, but mainly she does errands and looks things up on Wikipedia. more
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Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.