Introduction to Humor Writing 5-Week Zoom Workshop with Chas Gillespie, Starts Saturday, September 9th, 2023
Starts Saturday, September 9th, 2023
Class will meet weekly via Zoom on Saturdays, 1:30PM EST - 4:30PM EST.
Note: we will skip one Saturday (October 7th), and this class will conclude on 10/14.
Any questions about this class? Use the Chat Button (lower left) to talk with us.
Taught by Chas Gillespie, a writer, comedian, and teacher whose work appears in The New Yorker, The Onion, and McSweeney’s, where he contributes regularly. He is a graduate of Harvard College, where he studied English Literature, and Warren Wilson College, where he received his MFA in Fiction.
Learn more about Chas in our Meet the Teaching Artist series.
If you’re new to comedy writing or are looking to be published more frequently in outlets like McSweeney’s, Daily Shouts, and other online humor platforms, this course will provide you with a repeatable process that will help you generate funny prose. While the emphasis will be on short-form online humor, students are encouraged to connect the foundational skills of this class to other genres, including essays, screenplays, and fiction.
Chas will address principles of comedy writing like exaggeration and escalation, how to choose a topic, how to turn a topic into a premise, and revising and punching up a draft. By the end of the class, you’ll have at least one 800-word, publication-ready humor piece and a solid plan for how to approach writing these pieces in the future.
While publication isn’t the only goal of the course, Chas’s students are published in McSweeney’s, the New Yorker, and other funny outlets. Experienced and beginning writers are welcome.
This is a writing-heavy course, and we'll be focused on reading short pieces together.
- Learn the principles of comedy writing that apply to several genres.
- Practice the vocabulary of comedy writing (premise, escalation, callbacks, etc.).
- Improve your skills at giving and receiving feedback.
- Work through the step-by-step process of creating a humor piece.
- At least one publication-ready humor piece.
“I consider Chas a vital part of my writing process. His thoughtful analysis, insightful questions, and clear edits have helped me elevate my work across multiple genres: screenwriting, fiction, memoir, and humor. With his feedback I’ve been able to elevate the work, getting more published pieces and better representation. I don’t even want to write this recommendation because I’m terrified he will become too busy to work with me. But he asked and Chas has helped me so much, I feel indebted.”
“Chas is arguably the smartest person I’ve ever met. He’s also one of the nicest, most encouraging, and creatively challenging (in a good way). I’ve reached out to Chas many times in need of help trying to crack and craft a humor piece and his insights, suggestions, and guidance have helped me ten-fold. If you want someone that can help you take your work to its fullest potential, teach you valuable writing / humor lessons, and help you distill your work into a coherent train of thought, work with Chas.”
“Chas is an extremely intelligent, funny, detail-oriented, and no-nonsense editor and reader. He's been my go-to editor on a major project and has given me incisive, priceless feedback and, crucially, helped me find and address my blind spots. He is friendly, efficient, easy to communicate with, and I've been consistently impressed by his quick turnaround times. I can't recommend him highly enough.”
“Chas changed how I approach humor writing. I usually start with a funny thought and go from there. But Chas challenges you to begin with something that’s not necessarily funny—a topic that frustrates or preoccupies you. He then shows you how to make it funny, with techniques and strategies that have worked for him. The result is McSweeney’s-level humor that’s more personal, original, and hard hitting. I learned so much from Chas. He’s insightful, helpful, and inspiring. I can’t recommend him enough!”
“Chas taught me the fundamentals of humor writing, and over the course of 5 weeks I was transformed from complete noob to comic initiate. He was a patient teacher who demonstrated his expertise in the subject and passed on his knowledge generously. Not only did I have a polished piece by the end of class, but I also had the tools I needed to continue to generate clever ideas worthy of publication in some of my favorite corners of the internet.”
“If you imagine yourself as a writer but have trouble putting your thoughts to screen (or paper), Chas Gillespie is a great help. Working with Chas, I learned the power of tying what could be an entertaining idea to what I’m really passionate about. Therefore, instead of booting up the computer and wrestling with ways to motivate myself to put 700 words into the processor, I know exactly what I’m writing about and why I care about it. That leaves a lot more time to come up with creative laugh lines and ways to enhance the piece.
Chas is also an excellent mentor who teaches with quiet confidence. He hones in on what you want to write and works toward finding ways to elevate the stakes while keeping focus. I look forward to continuing to work with Chas in the future.”
“Chas is a pleasure to learn from. He masterfully presents the freeing aspects of structure and logic – true friends when the muse is running late – as well specificity -- the one lad you can always count on.
Chas sets up solid ground rules which lead to respectful interactions and contributions… and healthy fun banter.
Each class helps you feel one step closer to identifying as a professional writer and taking your humor craft more seriously.
Extra bonus: siblings might appreciate you more – and I quote my sister: ‘hey that humor writing class is really working!’
A very happy student.”
Class starts on Saturday, September 9th, 2023, via Zoom 1:30PM ET - 4:30PM ET
- Note: we will skip one Saturday (October 7th), and this class will conclude on 10/14.
If you have questions, please use the Chat Button or contact us via email HERE.
Instructor Chas Gillespie is a writer, comedian, and teacher whose work appears in The New Yorker, The Onion, and McSweeney’s, where he contributes regularly. He is a graduate of Harvard College, where he studied English Literature, and Warren Wilson College, where he received his MFA in Fiction. You can find his work on his website, chaschaschas.com. He is currently at work on a novel.