Funny Pages with Patrick Wensink

You have a natural sense of humor, even if you don't realize it. It's hard to bring it out in your writing—so let novelist and comedian Patrick Wensink show you how to bring the funny.

Your Instructor: Patrick Wensink, author of BROKEN PIANO FOR PRESIDENT and FAKE FRUIT FACTORY

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: May 23, 2017 - June 6, 2017

Enrollment: 20 students

Price: $175

Class Description

Any humorist will tell you that writing funny is hard.

They are liars.

Humor is tough, but not as impossible as it looks. Humorists just like to make you think they work harder than they do.

Either you know your work needs laughs, or you want to let your inner-humorist shine brighter—either way Patrick Wensink is here with a crash course in comedy.

Patrick is a funny guy—and also a bestselling novelist, an improv comedian, an essayist for publications like The New York Times and Salon, and America’s 103rd most popular humorist (right behind Dane Cook!).

This simple two week class pulls the veil back on literary laughter and helps students understand that getting a chuckle on the page is not all that mysterious. Whether you are looking for huge laughs, a little levity in your drama, or balls-to-the-walls weirdness, you have all the tools you need at your disposal right now... they just need a little spit and polish to shine brighter.

In Funny Pages anyone can discover their inner-humorist. No rubber chicken required.

What This Class Covers

Week 1: Crazy Vs. Not Crazy

Lecture: Think back to the funniest novel or movie you know. Chances are, the story falls into one of two categories: sane protagonist vs. a  crazy world (think Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse Five or Jerry from Seinfeld), or crazy protagonist vs. a sane world (and there is no better example than Ignatius Reilly in A Confederacy of Dunces). Knowing how these intricate setups work is like building a mousetrap, and will help you ground your story in humor.

Assignment: You'll sketch crazy characters and put them in a sane situation. Then you'll sketch sane characters and drop them in a crazy situation. Using those sketches, you'll look for the humor in these characters and settings.


Week 2: Third Time’s a Charm

Lecture: There is no harder working humor writer than the standup comedian. While there isn't a lot of fiction potential in jokes about white people and their dancing style, the logic standups use can be invaluable to the fiction writer seeking some levity in their work. This week, the class will learn the joke-writing maxim that everything is funnier in threes. Also, the class will discover how metaphor and simile are also a solid way to add humor. As a bonus, Wensink will berate students regarding the criminal misuse of irony in humor writing.

Assignment: You'll take a character from the first week, and develop him or her into a story, utilizing the tools you learned in the second week.

Goals Of This Class

  • Develop your natural sense of humor
  • Learn classic comedy setups
  • Discover the story structure of comedy
  • Finish the class with writing samples and character sketches
  • Get critiques from Patrick and your classmates

Additional Info

Unprintable: The LitReactor Podcast Episode 10 - The Reality of Having a Bestseller (Guest: Patrick Wensink)

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