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Writing for Performance: Sketch Comedy

This course is expected to run but has not yet been scheduled.

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Course Description

This two-week course offers a unique workshop experience for young writers and performers interested in the special challenges of writing sketch comedy for performance. Students will work both collaboratively and individually to develop and refine short scenes, to edit them based on student and instructor feedback, to stage them with minimal time and resources, and afterwards to assess and critique the effectiveness of their own work and the work of other members of the class.

In addition to time spent writing and workshopping, students in this course will view and discuss diverse examples of sketch comedy from the last forty years, with particular attention paid to the ways in which the sketch form has evolved (and, some would argue, regressed) during this time. From Monty Python, to the early Saturday Night Live, to Kids in the Hall, to Little Britain, to the late Saturday Night Live, to the many little-known groups now able to post short videos online, students will be asked to think critically about what defines sketch comedy as a type of performance, in terms of both its content and its structure, and the ways in which different performers and writers have tested the limits of this definition. Students will be encouraged to test this definition themselves, by expanding upon and diverging from the basic sketch formats covered in this course.

Though this course will be of special interest to those interested in writing for performance, all college-bound students will benefit from its emphasis on the process of editing written work, and on the challenges of giving, receiving, and incorporating critical feedback. Additionally, students will gain experience in creative collaboration, working under time constraints, and public speaking.