How to Write Funny

3 points
Session II: July 6 - August 14
T, R 2:00 - 4:10 pm
Instructor: Adam Wilson
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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
$1,570 per point ($4,710 for a 3-point course).
For more information on tuition and course fees, please refer to our Tuition & Fees page.

Materials Fee: $20
For questions about School of the Arts course content, please write to our summer team at For all other Summer Program questions, including admissions, registration, and billing, please contact the School of Continuing Education summer team at, or 212-854-9666.

About the Instructor


Adam Wilson

Adam Wilson is the author of the novel, Flatscreen, and the collection of short stories, What's Important Is Feeling. A National Jewish Book Award Finalist, and a recipient of The Terry Southern Prize, his fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, Tin House, VICE and The Best American Short Stories, among many other publications. 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.