Writing Humor

To present a piece of writing for the express purpose of making your audience laugh takes a peculiar combination of courage and confidence. After all, you aren’t simply seeking to avoid the audience’s displeasure; a humorous work must create pleasure, or else it has failed. The notion that you can give a large number of people the pleasure of laughter when most others cannot takes an abnormally high level of confidence in your ability to perceive, create, and express (or an extreme lack of self-awareness). This class is for students who have the guts and conviction that they can make others laugh, or for those seeking to acquire such confidence by discovering and understanding the comic techniques employed by great humorists.

This course will emphasize four broad elements of humorous writing: texture, tone, character, and narrative. We will focus less formally on the various genres of humor writing (parody, satire, farce, &c.).  Above all, this is a writing course. Humor writing demands an exceptionally high level of linguistic grace and precision, as a slight difference in expression can mean the difference between a laugh and a groan. A strong emphasis will be placed on crafting sentences elegantly and expressing meanings with exactitude, skills essential not just to writing humorously, but to all genres of writing.

Prerequisites: ENGL 120 recommended, but not required.

No application required prior to the first class.

Undergraduate Course #: 
MW 11:35am-12:50pm