How to Write Funny

This Summer 2014 course is now closed. Please join our mailing list to find out more about our Summer 2015 course offerings.
WRIT S4810 001
3 Points
Session II: July 7 - August 15
T, R  2 - 4:10 PM
Instructor: Adam Wilson
WRIT S4810 002
3 Points
Session II: July 7 - August 15
M, W  2 - 4:10 PM
Instructor: Teddy Wayne

In this class we will consider the various forms and functions of humor in written prose, discussing techniques and approaches to humor writing. Students will write their own humorous stories and essays which we will read and discuss in class, focusing not only on what is or isn’t funny, but on how humor can be advantageously used to increase the power of an overall piece. The class will also break down stories, novels, and essays from a variety of authors—Bill Hicks’ political satire; the darkly comedic fiction of Barry Hannah and Paul Beatty; the absurd humor of Tina Fey and Baratunde Thurston; Anthony Lane’s charming British snarkiness; Spy Magazine’s sharply parodic voice; Woody Allen’s one-liners; Lena Dunham’s zeitgeist comedy—in an effort to better understand what makes their humor work. Students will be asked to write stories inspired and influenced by these authors. As we critique each other's work, we will investigate strategies related to the craft of humor writing, including self-deprecation, political satire, humor and the other, going blue, dark comedy, schtick, humor as a means vs. humor as an end, crossing the line, and how to write funny without sacrificing substance.

Tuition & Fees
Most summer courses are offered at the standard Continuing Education tuition rate of $1,512 per point ($4,536 for a 3-point course and $9,072 for a six-point intensive). For more detailed information, please see "tuition and fees":
Materials fee: $20

About the Instructor

Adam Wilson is the author of the novel Flatscreen. His work has appeared in many publications including The Paris Review, Tin House, The Literary Review, Bookforum, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The New York Times and Best American Short Stories. He is the 2012 recipient of the Paris Review’s Terry Southern Prize for Humor. He lives in Brooklyn.


Teddy Wayne

Teddy Wayne is the author of the novels The Love Song of Jonny Valentine (Simon & Schuster) and Kapitoil (Harper Perennial), for which he was the winner of a Whiting Writers' Award, the recipient of an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, and a PEN/Bingham Prize, New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, and Dayton Literary Peace Prize finalist. A columnist for the New York Times, his work regularly appears in The New Yorker, GQ, McSweeney's, and elsewhere.

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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.