I teach independent comedy classes in New York City when I have the time. I am not currently registering any classes, but occasionally do workshops and private coaching.
Literary Elements of Sketch Comedy
Learn to look at various elements of what makes a comedy sketch work (e.g. distillation of the absurdity, translation to action, humanity of characters, rhythm of the language) and explore different approaches to each element. Students will discuss classic sketches as well as working their own. The goal is to change the way you look at sketches, and add more depth and dimension to your work.
Students will write three original sketches and transcribe eight other sketches. There will also be small writing excercises. There will be a class show at the end of the eight weeks, date to be decided by consensus during the first two weeks of class.
Expanded Course Description
A classic definition of literature is "the best expression of the best thought reduced to writing." A great sketch is something like "the best expression of the best absurdity reduced to action." (Action, in this case, includes words as well as movements; words can be actions when given the right context).
We'll be looking at how to distill the central absurdity ("soul") of each sketch - the thing about it that we find most deeply funny - and put the sketch back together, using every element to support that central absurdity. (This will not always be the "game", though a sketch that has a game should choose a game that supports this soul).
Obviously, this a hard thing to do; absurdity is difficult to articulate, and it's never immediately apparent what elements best support it. But we'll examine different methods and approaches, discuss the role of each element, and learn to ask useful questions, so that we can make use of time, thought, and judgment to refine our work to its very best form before we present it.
Enlightening. Dave did a wonderful job encouraging us to think and work as a group. The solidarity and critical thinking of the class as a unit made me a better writer.-- Gianluca Randazzo
I really enjoyed it. It challenged me to think about sketches in a much deeper way than I had previously...I really wanted to understand what makes sketches work on a, for lack of a better word, scientific level and that's what I got.-- Dmitry Shein
I really liked the class. I felt the best part was the unbiased collaborative environment. It really helps the writers develop ideas to better sketches.-- Michael Christoforo
High-Production Comedy Writing (formerly Professional Skills in Comedy Writing)
Learn to produce large volumes of work, get past your blocks, make your pitches tight and professional, and push through your weaknesses. Students will produce new sketches and ideas every week, and will learn how to deal with the stressful schedule of a professional show.
Homework will be required each week; the deposits will be placed in a pool, and at the end of the course will be divided among the students who always complete the homework before deadline. So if 8 students pay, and only 5 complete all their assignments, those 5 will each get $160 back.
(click to hide/show details and testimonials)
Expanded Course Description
Comedy is often fun and games, but jobs in comedy have lots of other elements. If you're serious about trying to get a professional comedy writing job, you should also be serious about doing the job.
You'll need to produce large volumes of work under tight deadlines, write ideas that aren't your favorite, finish other people's work, mess with things you think are perfect, give and take hard criticism, and say goodbye to lots of your favorite things. To most humans, these things can be aggravating, but to people with the right disposition, they can also be an exciting challenge, and that intensity can produce a strong sense of camaraderie.
The course will aim to put you through some of the rigors of a professional comedy writing job, build the skills you'll need to get up to that level, and teach you how to enjoy the experience.
As an added incentive to do all the work, students will put down a deposit that will only be returned if they complete a requisite number of assignments on time. The students who do complete all their assignments will not only get their own deposits back, but will share of the forfeited deposits with the other students who also completed the requisite assignments.
The homework will include, over the course of the seven weeks, 100 ideas, 10 first drafts, 5 rewrites, and a few smaller exercises.
The class show will not be required, but students may participate in a double class show (with the Literary Elements) class.
" I enjoyed the rigor of the assignments and the chance to get and give notes in class. The writer's room feel was very enjoyable....Everyone always talks about the fact that the only way you get better is to write. What they don't do is help you sharpen the skills that get you to the point where you can do large volumes of work in a short time. This class was very helpful with that."-- Jason DeWall