3 Comedy Courses to Learn from the Pros

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We at Humor That Works are big believers in lifelong learning which includes learning from other humorists, comedians, and improvisers. Most of the top comedy clubs offer online courses right now, so you can learn at your own pace without having to hop on a plane to New York, London or Chicago!

Here are three comedy courses that we’ve really enjoyed recently, taught by top professionals in the industry:

Steve Martin Comedy Masterclass

This masterclass inspires you to write, write, and write some more. Steve Martin teaches you the principles of comedy, while randomly injecting humor into the lesson by playing the banjo and teasing us for paying for his course, “Welcome to your non-refundable masterclass in clawhammer banjo! Good choice!”

The class is intentionally broad to expose you to different styles of humor (comedy, sketch, character development, and public speaking) and gives you the first steps to write material every week. The assignments are very helpful at getting you more organized and methodical in your humor journal. They teach you how to take a broad topic, establish a strong point of view, brainstorm writing a bunch of jokes under it, and narrow down to your best bits. This approach minimizes the hours of re-writing jokes that many young comedians struggle with.

Steve is “quick, frank, charming, and a thoroughly positive presence – exactly what you want from the leader of a class like this”, one reviewer writes in Vulture, so you always feel encouraged and supported.

Second City Satirical Sketch Comedy Writing

This comedy course is great for building your ideas into sketches and structured writing for scripts. Second City teaches you how to turn your opinions into hilarious satirical sketches and tools to give your ideas a comedic twist.  

The course dives deep into comedic writing structure, turning your ideas into a story, heightening, and character dialogue. The course is definitely more about mechanics than just teaching you how to be funny. The weekly assignments have a theme like “satire” or “fish out of water” to structure your creativity and you’re paired with a classmate so you can give each other feedback on your writing.

Since this is Second City, you will also get little tidbits of improv sprinkled throughout. The course is equally an education in the golden improv principle of “being fully and overwhelmingly in the moment”, one previous student writes.

Stand Up NY – Develop Your Tight Five

This comedy course teaches you how to create a ‘Tight Five’ and get ready to perform at an open mic. A ‘Tight Five’ is your best five minutes of material arranged to have the biggest impact on the audience. This is a standard of the comedy industry and for many comics, it takes years to write, fine tune, and perform a great five-minute set.

The course teaches how to find the comedic style that best aligns with your inspirations, open up your comedic mindset to find punchlines in everyday life, and arranging your jokes into a cohesive set. Stand Up NY has assembled seven comedians to teach you and the teachers have an attention to detail and encourage you to learn from their mistakes.  "Comedy is a mistake riddled art form, so you learn as you go... it's like boxing, if you have the wrong glove up, you're going to get smashed in the face, but next time you're going to learn," says instructor Godfrey Danchimah. There are even tips on how to properly hold the microphone so you make the best first impression possible.

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning different styles and perspectives from these comedy institutions and hopefully you will too! Remember, start writing and keep Yes and-ing your own ideas!

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