In this eight-week, four-session class, participants will read and discuss an absorbing and hilarious selection of modern comic literature—ranging from novels, to memoir, to a collection of shorter essays and pieces—from the last five years. These works present comedic and absurd ways of looking at and responding to the world through a mix of formats, from a variety of authorial perspectives. We’ll discuss each book’s overall structure, engine for comedy, and pull out our favorite lines and comedic setpieces to inform our writing exercises. We’ll also ask throughout the course what relief or value comic literature can provide us during this ~stressful~ time.
Each class period will begin with an hour of guided discussion about that week’s book, led by the instructor. Come to class having already read the book, with 4-5 of your favorites scenes/lines selected for discussion. The final 30 minutes of each class session will feature a series of writing prompts and craft exercises inspired by a facet of that week’s reading. Participants are then invited to revise those exercises on their own and post to the class shell for brief instructor feedback. Students may opt to pay an additional fee at the end of the class for additional instructor feedback on their work. Participants are expected to have read Made For Love before the first session.
Books will include:
- Made for Love by Alissa Nutting (2017)
- Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood (2017)
- My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (2018)
- Something That May Shock and Discredit You by Daniel M. Lavery (2020)
Note: Any ‘Reading...as Writers’ student can opt in to a 45-minute consultation with the instructor for an additional fee of $105, in which you receive one-on-one feedback on any writing that emerged from the course, including ideas for revision and specific line edits. Please email [email protected] after your final group meeting to arrange a consultation.
Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features.
- A greater familiarity with contemporary comic novels, memoirs, and collections, in regards to their structure, tone, and character.
- Examinations of four different authors’ writing techniques and what they can teach us about our own writing, especially when it comes to the comic, satirical, and absurd.
- A supportive environment for exploring new literary possibilities, particularly with regard to writing physical comedy, dark comedy, comedic dialogue, and/or heightening into the absurd.
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
- Participants must have access to the four assigned books, either as physical copies or e-books
- Participants are expected to have read Made for Love before the first session begins
- Each session will focus on one book; participants are expected to have read the book before the session begins
- Students are expected to attempt the writing exercises offered at the end of each session
Week One: Made for Love by Alissa Nutting. Discussion of physical comedy, slapstick, satire, and heightening. Writing prompt will focus on writing a slapstick physical comedy scene.
Week Two: Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood. Discussion of choosing comedic details from real life, distilling comedy down into images, creating comedic characters. Writing prompt will focus on creating a comedic scene out of a real-life person or situation.
Week Three: My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. Discussion of dark comedy, comedy from horror and serious sources, screwball comedy. Writing prompt will focus on creating comedy from a seemingly non-comedic prompt/idea.
Week Four: Something That May Shock and Discredit You by Daniel M. Lavery. Discussion of shorter form humor, melding personal essay/memoir with comedic premise, and comedy as a mechanism for exploration. Writing prompt will focus on creating a comedic premise for a short, standalone piece of personal comedy.
Caitlin Kunkel is a satirist and producer with bylines in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. She co-wrote the humor book "New Erotica for Feminists: Satirical Fantasies of Love, Lust, and Equal Pay," named one of the 10 Best Comedy Books of 2018 by Vulture. She’s the co-founder of the comedy site The Belladonna, created the online satire writing program for The Second City, and co-founded the Satire and Humor Festival. She teaches and speaks on satire and writing across the US and internationally.
"The Belladonna is the new Onion, a combination humor/fake news/lifestyle parody site from a sharp, female and/or feminist point of view that delivers precise, critical blows to toxic masculinity, the dumbass patriarchy, and dumbassery in general. In that spirit, Belladonna editors Caitlin Kunkel, Brooke Preston, Fiona Taylor, and Carrie Wittmer wrote a piece for MCSWEENEY'S that rightfully went viral for its relatability and hilarity: NEW EROTICA FOR FEMINISTS in which women’s constantly unfulfilled wish for equality and decency and to not be treated like sex objects is expressed via short erotic stories, like a paragraph from a romance novel, or a letter to Penthouse. Well, they turned the idea into a whole book of inspiring and vital “erotica.” For example, when Juliet dumps Romeo because their relationship is clearly toxic, or a fantasy about Tom Hardy filling one’s fridge with LaCroix and then playing with a rescue dog."
“This erotica made my loins enflamed with desire... to smash the patriarchy. I would gladly read a whole book of it and pay even a whole Man’s Salary to purchase said book. It deserves to be promoted as much as any high-performance woman in the workplace.”
"NEW EROTICA FOR FEMINISTS accomplishes what the best satire always should: it's smart, funny, and, most importantly, necessary. I loved it. So will you. I could have kept reading forever."
"We’ve written about former Paste contributor Caitlin Kunkel recently as one of the co-founders of The Belladonna and one of the co-authors of the excellent NEW EROTICA FOR FEMINISTS. However, if you’re thinking about writing some of this stuff yourself, and are concerned at the fact that there isn’t really the same infrastructure for learning how to write humor and satire the way there is for improv and sketch comedy, Kunkel is currently rectifying the situation as the creator of the satire writing program at The Second City."
"Caitlin is pretty great, you guys. She teaches with insight, offers notes with purpose and respect and pushes you farther than you think you can go - over and over again. Her enthusiasm for her students and their work puts Walmart Greeters to shame. And her sense of humor is as twisted as they come. For the record: that is a compliment."
"Caitlin Kunkel was the teacher I needed to take my humor writing to the next level. She's a gifted writer, a knowledgeable instructor, and the most insightful editor I've ever worked with. Her feedback on my work was invaluable. I published nearly every piece I wrote in her classes and ended up recouping my tuition and then some."