Academics

Courses

  • CA100 Why Did the Chicken? Fundamentals in Comedic Storytelling

    4 Credits

    Analyzes the subjective nature of comedy. What makes something funny? Why do some people laugh when others don’t? How does American comedy differ from comedy from other countries? Through a series of lectures, readings, screenings, and discussions, students boil down the common denominators of universal comedy. They utilize this newfound knowledge to explore and discover their own unique comedic voices through improvisation and sketch writing.

    Instructors Michael Bent, Matthew McMahan
  • CA102 Evolution of Comedy I

    4 Credits

    Tracks the history of comedy, beginning in Greece and Rome, through the Italian renaissance (Commedia erudite and Commedia dell’arte), Elizabethan England, 17th-century France, the English Restoration, to Hollywood comedy of the 1930s and 1940s. Chief topics include the growth of the comic theatrical tradition and conventions; techniques and themes of comic plots (trickster, parody, farce, caricature); and the role of comedy in society: is it disruptive or unifying? Insightful or malicious? When is censorship necessary?

    Instructors Matthew McMahan
  • CA103 Evolution of Comedy II

    4 Credits

    Provides a broad survey of comedy in film, television, and audio recording to explore the evolution of forms, styles, and meanings. The course also examines the creative agency and individuality (authorship) of particular comedy directors, television creator-producers, performers, and collaborative teams in the broader context of comedy forms and styles. Alongside exploring the poetics of mass culture comedy, the course investigates mass culture comedy’s social and political significance as a regulator of the status quo as well as a force of satire, protest, and even rebellion. In that regard, issues of social identity and diversity, as well as questions of exclusion and inclusion, permeate students’ investigations into comedy. Simply put, the course repeatedly asks: who is laughing at whom, and why? What are the social and political stakes of mass culture comedy? How are the poetics of mass culture comedy related to the social and cultural significance (and signification) of comedy?

    Instructors Maria Corrigan
  • CA200 Modes of Comedy Production

    4 Credits

    An introduction to production for potential comedy writers, producers, directors, and performers. This course familiarizes students with the basic techniques of single-camera field production and multi-camera studio production, allowing them to appreciate when either approach might be employed.

    Instructors Eric Handler
  • CA300 Theories of Humor & Laughter

    4 Credits

    Investigates theories of comedy, including theories of humor and laughter. Drawing on philosophy, ethics, cognitive science, psychology, anthropology, linguistics, and social sciences, students learn the social, economic, and political theories of comedy, and how they relate to the physiological and psychological condition for humor and laughter. Students write a research paper on the topic of their choice and conduct observatory and experiential research.

    Instructors Kenneth Feil
  • CA300 Theories of Humor and Laughter

    4 Credits

    Investigates theories of comedy, including theories of humor and laughter. Drawing on philosophy, ethics, cognitive science, psychology, anthropology, linguistics, and social sciences, students learn the social, economic, and political theories of comedy, and how they relate to the physiological and psychological condition for humor and laughter. Students write a research paper on the topic of their choice and conduct observatory and experiential research.

    Instructors Kenneth Feil
  • CA320 Topics in Comedy: Producing a Comedy Festival

    4 Credits

    Students will work on the design, implementation, organization, and execution of a comedy festival (ComEx!) held in early April. This course is a hands-on learning experience and much of it will focus on the process of putting on a large scale comedy event, with special attention on developing your skills in organization, leadership, and communication. Enrollment is by application only directly to the instructor, Erin_schwall@emerson.edu

    Instructors Erin Schwall
  • CA333 Elements of Sitcom Production

    4 Credits

    Students further develop their comedy production skills in the television studio and in the field in relation to sitcom production. Emphasis is placed on planning a show and coordinating a crew, as well as analyzing different styles of sitcom productions.

    Instructors Tom Kingdon
  • CA410 Craft and Contemporary Comedic Literature

    4 Credits

    This course will delve into the works of nine masters of comedic writing— novelists, memoirists, essayists, short story writers and playwrights such as Oscar Wilde, Lorrie Moore, David Sedaris, Amy Hempel, and Junot Díaz. We’ll examine the structure of these writers’ stories while also scrutinizing their works on a sentence level. To practice their craft and expand their range, students will write and workshop three “inserts,” one- page imitations of a text. The final paper will be a comedic story or a paper analyzing one or more texts studied over the semester.

    Instructors Machiko Yoshikawa
  • CA420 Topics in Comedy: Live from Emerson

    4 Credits

    Students will develop, write, and perform digital comedy sketches in the vein of Funny or Die and a live-to-tape studio sketch show, in the vein of Saturday Night Live or Key and Peele. This course is to be offered in conjunction with VM 440 Advanced TV Studio Production: Fiction (Sketch).

    Instructors Edward Lee