This workshop will cover humor in writing in all its forms, with a concentration on short comic pieces, such as the New Yorker‘s Shouts and Murmurs column and barnesandnoble.com’s humor feature Grin & Tonic. We’ll discuss the concepts, vocabulary, timing, underlying themes, dialogue techniques, structure, and categories of such writing and, I hope, participants will try their hands at this craft. In addition, we’ll look at passages from three or four classic novels—Moby-Dick, Great Expectations, and Pride and Prejudice—to see how humor works in serious literature. Finally, we’ll use videos from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report and from such comedians as Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, and Lucille Ball to consider the commonalities of and differences between written and performed comedy.
This workshop is open to all levels and requires no advance submission. Participants in the workshop should have paperback copies of the three novels mentioned above and the New Yorker‘s anthology of humor, Fierce Pajamas (also available in paperback). Any member is free at any time to submit a humor piece of 500-1000 words to the group as a whole. At the beginning of the first session, each workshop member must tell a joke.
No, I don’t care if you “can’t tell jokes.” You have to tell one. Participants must have access to a computer, to be able to look at online material.
A $100 deposit (fully refundable) is required to register for any workshop. The full cost of the workshop is $450.
About Daniel Menaker
Daniel Menaker worked for 26 years at the New Yorker, as an editor and writer. He has contributed fiction and humor and essays and journalism to the New Yorker, Harper’s, the Atlantic, the New York Times Magazine, and many other publications and has twice received the O. Henry Award for short fiction. From 1995 through 2007, he was an editor at Random House and was Executive Editor-in-Chief there from 2003 through 2007. He is the author of six books, two of them New York Times notable titles and is currently working on a memoir tentatively titled My Mistake.