Narrative comedy: writing for TV in the online age

Course Dates: 10/11/19
Time: 10:30 - 16:30
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Alan Nixon

Award-winning shows like Fleabag, Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and People Just Do Nothing have changed the face of comedy. Add streaming services – where This Country began – and the opportunities to develop narrative comedy are multitude. This course led by an Emmy award-winning Producer, explains how to identify your outlets and modify your projects accordingly.


What is the course about?

Writing comedy of any kind requires tremendous discipline. You need to be able to construct believable characters who can act as vehicles for jokes without sacrificing their believability. You need to put together scenes so that they build naturally to punchlines, and craft your plots in the same way. This course will help you.

In a series of interactive sessions, you will be encouraged to demonstrate a grasp of basic narrative comedy and how to use it. You will demonstrate how to edit your own work and prepare it for presentation. You will identify different forms of comedy narrative and explain how they are constructed. Students will work together in group exercises to learn about giving positive feedback.

The Tutor: Alan Nixon is one of Britain’s top independent media professionals. His recent productions include directing the award-winning R4 sitcom Reluctant Persuaders. He has been Creative Consultant to broadcasters and renowned independents, including Aardman Animations (Wallace & Gromit), Grant Naylor (Red Dwarf), and Absolutely Productions (Armstrong & Miller / Trigger Happy TV). He was one of the founding controllers of Channel Five, has worked with Alexei Sayle, Victoria Wood, Caroline Aherne and Simon Day, and teaches courses at the BFI, the National Television and Film School, and the London School of Film, Media and Performance.

City Lit reserves the right to change course tutors from those advertised in this outline. In line with our refund policy we are unable to grant a refund on the grounds of a change of tutor.

What will we cover?

- The many outlets for narrative comedy.
- A short history of narrative comedy.
- Preparing your own Treatment.
- Preparing a pitch.
- Writing sample scripts.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Set up a comic world that is filled with potential for stories and jokes
- Create comic characters that are well-rounded and can sustain the audience's interest over the course of a series
- Construct plots and scenes that pack a (funny) punch
- Give and receive feedback with sensitivity
- Identify where you can pitch your own projects to best effect.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

The course is suitable for anyone with an interest in writing comedy for TV. You are encouraged to bring your ideas or a project-in-progress. Fluency in spoken and written English is required.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

You will be shown examples of comedy from television, online and streaming sources. There will be group and individual activities to identify and practice the skills of writing for each medium. There will be individual and group writing exercises plus formal instruction from the tutor.

All writing courses at City Lit will involve an element of workshop. This means that students will produce work which will be discussed in an open and constructive environment with the tutor and other students. The college operates a policy of constructive criticism, and all feedback on another student’s work by the tutor and other students should be delivered in that spirit.

For classes longer than one day regular reading and writing exercises will be set for completion at home to set deadlines.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

No additional costs. Please bring a notebook and pen or pencil with you to class. You are welcome to bring a laptop or table to use during writing exercises if it will help you.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

You may be interested in a term-long screenwriting course, including Ways into screenwriting or Television screenwriting in Term 3.

All students are invited to join us at Late Lines, our regular performance night for City Lit writers. Students are also encouraged to submit their work to Between the Lines, our annual anthology of creative writing. For the latest news, courses and events, stay in touch with the Department on Facebook and Twitter.

General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details

Tutor Biographies
We’re sorry. We don’t have a bio ready for the tutor of this class at the moment, but we’re working on it! Watch this space.

Book your place

Course Code: HW087

Sun, day, 10 Nov - 10 Nov '19

Duration: 1 session

Full fee: £59.00
Senior fee: £59.00
Concession: £24.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

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Any questions?
or call 020 7492 2717

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.