Writing comedy for TV in the online age
Time: 10:30 - 13:00
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HW497
Choose a start date
Duration: 2 sessions
Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.
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.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
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.
City Lit Writing endeavours to create a safe and welcoming space for all and we strongly support the use of content notes in our classes. This means that learners are encouraged to make their tutor and classmates aware in advance if any writing they wish to share contains material that may be deemed sensitive. If you are unsure about what might constitute sensitive content, please ask your tutor for further clarification and read our expectations for participating in writing courses at City Lit.
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.
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.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.