Workshop Focus

Each session will consist of three basic segments:

1.    Discussion of the comic elements in such classic fiction as Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations, and Moby-Dick. (Don’t worry—we’ll be looking at only brief sections of these books.)
2.    Reading and discussion of short comic pieces from The New Yorker‘s humor anthology, Fierce Pajamas and’s humor feature “Grin & Tonic.”
3.    Discussion of participants’ writing. Before or during the workshop, each person is asked to write a comic piece of no more than 1000 words; it can be an essay, a list, a parody, a personal reminiscence—anything that is basically comic in intent.

There will also be brief in-workshop exercises, such as smashing cliches (think of funny variations on, for instance, “the whole nine yards” or “a stitch in time”).

The overall goal of the workshop is to learn some basic techniques of comic writing and to understand that all great writing, except maybe the Constitution and The Communist Manifesto, has comic elements, which tend ultimately to ease the human predicament of existing and not knowing why.


This workshop is full. Click here to join the waitlist.
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). During the workshop, each participant in the class must submit a humor piece of 500-1000 words for discussion by the group as a whole. And 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 also have access to a computer, to be able to look at online material.

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.

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