Finding Your Funny: The Comedy Arts (55+)

Getting and sharing a laugh can be one of the most exhilarating experiences. We will discuss comedy’s role in our lives and how nearly every subject can be developed into a comedy piece. You’ll learn to be your authentic self and to get smiles and downright belly laughs as you experience the different comedy genres.

Each week we’ll learn about a different comedy art form, including theatre, standup, storytelling, sketch, improv, literature and laughter wellness. Along the way, we’ll experiment and try each of these styles in class. We’ll also discover the importance of comedy in aging and community.

Note: This is a revised version of Finding Your Funny: Discover Standup Comedy, from fall 2018.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

Currently not available for registration.

What will I learn?

Week 1: History of comedy

We’ll look back to the days of minstrels, vaudeville and radio and explore their role in today’s world of comedy. We will discuss how humour has changed and examine the different ways in which comedy is delivered. We’ll consider why laughter is important to our daily lives and in our communities. There will be a very informal introduction “circle” where we tell each other why we’re interested in comedy and what brought us to the class.

Week 2: Comedy and writing for live theatre

We will look at comedy in theatre and see how styles like satire, physical humour, farce and parody are used to entertain us and make us laugh. We’ll explore how up-to-date characters in current situations can depict modern seniors. We will work collaboratively to produce a script and share it with our classmates.

Week 3: Comedy improvisation

We’ll explore the improv technique and how this “made up” skill can help you build confidence, trust your instincts and increase your creativity. We’ll discuss recent research on improv and dementia studies. We will participate in some basic improv exercises and enjoy the fun of being in the moment.

Week 4: Stand-up comedy and storytelling

We will look at the differences between stand-up comedy and comedy storytelling. We’ll consider the importance of the writing process in developing these formats. We will explore how to develop authentic comedy material from your life and turn it into a live stage piece. The importance of proper microphone and stage use will also be discussed.

Week 5: Sketch comedy

Carol Burnett, Saturday Night Live and Kids in the Hall are some of the sketch comedy favourites. We will take a look at sketch comedy and how it works. We’ll also discuss the sitcom and how it fits into today’s comedy. We will write a short sketch, perform it with your classmates and discuss how it could be shared in your community.

Week 6: That’s a wrap

We will review all of the comedy formats and how they can be supported in our communities. Everyone will have a chance to share a short comedy piece that they have developed during the course. We’ll also experience therapeutic laughter wellness exercises that require no writing or acting—just laughing for the goodness of your heart.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion
  • Class participation
  • Group work

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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