In this once-in-a-lifetime seminar/workshop, we’ll dismantle the short conceptual humor piece and discuss all the ways to write and publish brag-worthy jokes-cum-prose. There are many forms of comedic writing, from sketch to Sedaris, but this workshop will revolve around the 600-800-word variety à la McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and The New Yorker’s Shouts & Murmurs. However niche and epigrammatic, we may apply these lessons, virtues, and exercises to all writing. In addition to honing bookish wit by understanding the form, techniques, and cheap tricks, students will also learn (so help me God) the fundamentals of submitting humor (how to: write a perfect pithy cover letter, build a bio, get paid, and sit in a chair).
In this two-day master class, each student will brainstorm, write, and workshop a successful shortish parody/satire or die trying.
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."
"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."
“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."
"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')."