/ Graduate Catalogue / Writing / 2013-2014

Writing With Wit

This is a course from a previous year. View the current courses

Did you hear the one about the MFA student who blended strong prose with a sense of humor? Probably not, since so many don’t. Or maybe they're just not encouraged. In this workshop, you’ll learn to inject humor into your work by connecting with your comic voice. We’ll read and discuss the work of legendary humorists including James Thurber and Dorothy Parker, as well as contemporary wits such as David Sedaris, Nora Ephron, Woody Allen, Ian Frazier, Merryl Markoe, Fran Lebowitz, and Sloane Crosley. Writing assignments will help strengthen your voice across four basic forms: the personal essay, the comic novel or short story, the topical news column, and the parody piece. We’ll also do some in-class exercises designed to shake off preconceived notions of "literary" prose, and help you find the funny in the characters, dialogue, and situations that you create. Whether your goal is to pen a “Shouts and Murmurs” piece for The New Yorker, a post for McSweeney's, or just loosen your style with a lighter touch, the first step is the same: Take your sense of humor seriously. Sample reading selections include: The Fun of It: Stories from The Talk of the Town, The New Yorker, Lillian Ross, editor; I Found This Funny, Judd Apatow, editor; selected interviews from And Here's the Kicker: Conversations With Humor Writers, Sachs, editor, and How To Write Funny, John Kachuba, editor; Saturday Night, Susan Orlean; Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris; and The Onion.