In this once-in-a-lifetime online humor writing seminar/workshop/prayer circle, we’ll dismantle the short humor piece and discuss how to write and publish 500-800 words à la The New Yorker’s Shouts & Murmurs, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Belladonna, Weekly Humorist, Points in Case, and more.
While there are many forms of comedic writing, from sketch to Sedaris, in this class we’ll focus on conceptual humor. However niche, we may apply these lessons, virtues, and cheap tricks to all humorous writing, short fiction, personal essays, emails, and dating profiles, if that's what you're into.
Plus, short humor is the best gateway to comedy writing as a career or hobby.
Students will also learn (so help me God) the fundamentals of submission (how to: write a no-miss cover letter, build a bio, get paid, follow up, and deal with rejection via food). Productivity hacks and performance advice will be given when the time is right.
And included at no extra cost: Guest hosts like Jen Spyra (The New Yorker, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Onion) and Caitlin Kunkel (The Second City Network and The Belladonna). (NOTE: These are subject to change based on what each class needs.) Plus pro tips from all-star contributors to Shouts & Murmurs, Reductress, and beloved TV shows.
Each student (hereupon known as "friend") will brainstorm, compose, and workshop four successful shortish parodies and satires—including evergreen, genre parody, social and political satire, character monologue, and balderdash—or will die trying.
Good news: you'll get to meet with me once (via Skype or phone) for an individual conference/dance experience to discuss squad goals, vision boards, and overall progress and room for improvement. We'll each prepare compliments for the other and virtually hug it out.
This class will meet over our video chat platform. You will need to use Google Chrome to join your class meetings.
COURSE TAKEAWAYS: (TLDR )
- The ability to break down the short humor piece to better understand how to write your own
- Instruction on comedic premise, structure, speaker/POV, and looking inward to write humor
- Writing exercises to bring out what you have to have to offer as a writer
- Peer and instructor feedback on pitches and four humor pieces (including parodies and satires)
- Fluency in the fundamentals of submitting your humor writing - from how to prepare a piece for submission to what venues are best suited to your writing
- Writing & productivity hacks and hot tips
- “Do”s and “don’t”s from an editor’s perspective
- One individualized meeting with the instructor, to address your writing style, goals, and areas for improvement
- A clearer sense of your weapons as a humorist, and the skills to deploy them on the page
- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
- More confidence as a writer, both on and off the page
- Ways to make friends as an adult
Elissa Bassist is the editor of the column “Funny Women” on The Rumpus and teaches writing nationally. Her sad essays and humor appear in The New York Times, NewYorker.com, NYMag.com, Marie Claire, Longreads, and more, including the best-seller Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, ed. by Roxane Gay. She served as managing editor of The Best American Nonrequired Reading and writers' assistant on The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and she is probably her therapist's favorite.
“Elissa is too good for most anybody.”
“Love your work on The Rumpus! You really do have quite a special, strong, funny voice. I LOVE YOUR WRITING! Have I not made that clear?”
"Elissa is one of the most supportive and kindest teachers I've had, all while still delivering EXCELLENT critiques. She is a treasure!"
"Elissa was extremely knowledgeable, supportive, and funny! I walked away with a stronger grasp of humor writing structure and technique. And thanks to Elissa’s supportive teaching style, I feel more confident as a writer and more comfortable expressing my voice. Elissa also imparted her knowledge of the creative writing process and shared her tools and techniques for generating ideas and tackling first drafts and revisions. These are practices that I’ll continue using after the class."
"I have recommended this class to SO MANY PEOPLE. Elissa is an amazing teacher. She creates such an awesome environment where everyone generally wants to improve AND she can explain to you what isn't working without hurting your ego in the slightest. If it weren't weird, I'd take this class ten more times. Makes me think good things about Catapult."
“Had a lot of fun with the class, and for the first time, I feel like I can write funny things (though I've always believed I'm extremely funny, and my friends think so too). Elissa’s enthusiasm and laughter are infectious, would definitely take a class with her again.”
“This class taught me so much about humor and also probably made me a better person (for learning how to see the humor in people). Before Elissa’s class I didn't really understand the value of spending time and energy on writing genres that aren't your primary interest. In her class I learned about using humor to write about sad stuff, which I'd never attempted before."
"Thanks for coming back to the New School to teach us all how to be funny. Besides the valuable advice, I found your words about the business aspect of the writing and submissions helpful. I’ve got a funny novel I’m finishing, and I’ll put your advice to use soon."
"I’ve heard several breathless, fawning reviews (no joke) and I know the students were thrilled to have you here. Students were particularly happy that the workshop was focused on specific (achievable, publishable) kinds of humor writing (and not like, 'how to land a spot in the writer’s room of THE BIG BANG THEORY')."