Offered in 2015


Finding Your Funny: Discover Standup Comedy (55+)

Standup comedy is considered one of the most difficult performance art forms. Yet getting a laugh can be the most exhilarating of feelings. You’ll participate in this course by telling parts of your life story and adding the punchlines in the right places. You’ll learn to be your authentic self and to get smiles and downright belly laughs. And don’t worry; you get to pick the parts of your life story you want to share.

We will discuss comedy’s role in our lives and how nearly every subject can be developed into a comedy bit. We’ll work collaboratively to generate jokes and develop your performance style. A showcase of our comedy will be featured in the final class.

Note: Back by popular demand, from fall 2016.
You will share ideas using a Facebook group, which will require a Facebook account and a signed waiver form of permission.

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

What will I learn?

Week 1: A History of Stand-up Comedy

We look back to the days of minstrels, vaudeville and radio to see the role they played in shaping today’s stand-up comedy. We’ll consider why laughter is important to our daily lives. There will be a very informal introduction circle where we tell each other why we’re interested in comedy and what brought us here today.

Week 2: The Comedy Formula

There’s a world of difference between making your friends laugh over a drink and actually doing stand-up comedy. There is a formula we can use that is easy to describe but hard to do that will let us take our first steps. Together we will share our comedy ideas, applying them to the formula and learning how to get a laugh.

Week 3: What is Your Comic Style?

Using clips from a wide range of comics, we will explore the different comedy styles of comics, both famous and emerging, local and international. The group will share their perspectives on their own comic persona. Comedy writing is always a group process, and we’ll have constructive feedback from everyone.

Week 4: Moving Along the Comedy Path

This week we examine the next elements of the comedy formula: the rule of three, callbacks and punchline placement. Working in small groups or as a whole class, we’ll do some restructuring of our increasingly funny material, making it tighter, better paced and more authentically funny.

Week 5: Act Outs, Openers, Closers and Set Order

Now we’re getting ready for showtime! We’ll add act outs to make the jokes come to life before our eyes. We’ll strengthen our openers and closers, and learn some additional microphone techniques.

Week 6: Showtime—Staging, Lights and Set Order

We will put all of the jokes into a four to five minute set, ready to be performed on a comedy stage. Everyone gets a chance to perform for all of us, using the microphone and being introduced just as we would in a comedy club. Those who want to can film their own set.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Essays (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

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

Recommended reading

The Comedy Bible, Judy Carter: Simon & Schuster, 2001.

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

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