One of the greatest things a novel can do is not take itself too seriously. From the savvy dark comedy to the biting social satire to the topsy-turvy realm of the absurd, books that make us laugh are well-loved and remembered.
In this class we'll learn what it means to be funny in fiction, which is both easier and harder than you might expect. It looks a lot like throwing a bunch of wet spaghetti against a wall and seeing what sticks: humor is part-intention and part-happenstance, the beautiful hybrid child of structure and spontaneity.
In six weeks, you'll read a lot of funny stuff by writers like George Saunders, Fran Ross, Mona Awad, and Charles Yu. And you'll also write a lot of your own funny stuff—so much that by the end of it all you probably won't be able to sit down to your keyboard with a straight face. Each student will submit a story or novel excerpt for workshop once over the course of the class.
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. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility.
Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.
- Making readers laugh is about figuring out what makes YOU laugh as opposed to following some kind of sophisticated formula.
- Funny writing is memorable writing.
- The more unpredictable things get, the better.
- Feedback from your instructor and peers on one workshop submission.
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students will read a book excerpt each week and will workshop one story (up to 25 pages) a week (possibly two depending on class size). Each week we will discuss our assigned reading for 45 minute to one hour, take a brief break, and then workshop a student story.
Week 1: Introductions, Humor through Voice
Week 2: Humor through Characterization and Absurdism, Workshop 1
Week 3: Humor through Form, Workshop 2
Week 4: Dark Comedy, Workshop 3
Week 5: Social Satire, Workshop 4
Week 6: Humor through Genre, Workshop 5
Rafael Frumkin is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the Medill School of Journalism. His first novel, The Comedown, was published by Henry Holt in 2018 to critical acclaim. His satirical second novel, Confidence, will be published by Simon and Schuster in 2023, and his collection, Bugsy and Other Stories, is slated to hit shelves in early 2024. He lives with his partner, two cats, and one dog in Carbondale, IL, where he is an assistant professor of creative writing at Southern Illinois University.
"So good, so fully realized and meticulously, skillfully rendered. . . .R.A. Frumkin can write.”
"This class inspired and informed who I would later become. I found a love for writing within myself because of this fiction class. The class eventually lead me to try to seek out more of your writing. I was so struck by the clarity and craft. It's something I still aspire to anytime I write something. I had a conversation with someone recently and told them how much this class meant to me and they told me if I truly felt that way I should express my gratitude. I guess ultimately, I just want to say thank you for being awesome and thank you for being an inspiration."
"Rafael was a dynamic and deeply thoughtful writing teacher. His comments were always thorough and insightful, as though he understood the written word from within the text. I was an older student when I took his class, and was always humbled by the depth of wisdom he exhibited. Indeed, I never felt anything but complete trust for his judgement when it came to my writing. He didn’t push his perspective or taste onto us, simply gave us the space--and encouragement—we needed to grow."
"It’s rare that a novel this smart is such an engrossing read...Frumkin is whip-smart and funny. The writing is compulsively readable without being pedestrian. Sentences seem to vibrate. . . A reminder of what good old-fashioned fiction can do."
"Devastatingly smart...That this is Frumkin's debut makes the ambition of this story all the more remarkable."