Gill Smith
Gill Smith - Comedy Writer & Performer

Reading Uni Gill Smith's Creating Comedy (an Introduction to Comedy Writing)

This will be running for its fourth year in the 2006-7 academic year. It's great to teach, because students usually produce some very funny material across a range of styles, from captions for greetings cards to sketches and song spoofs. Most also participate in a stand-up 'open mike' session.

So, how does the course work?

  • We start with a look at types of humour, gags, and topics, including taboo subjects. Next, students write plenty of gags and look at changing gags to suit different audiences. We also discuss topical comedy - where it's used and how to go about it.
  • Greetings cards are a good market for gags - so we look at writing one-liners or longer gags for these, and also cover how to submit ideas.
  • Metre and rhyme can add humour, so we look at comedy poetry in its various forms, including spoofs, songs and lyrics.
  • Sketches vary in style - the class looks at short character led pieces, for TV, radio and stage, and at the opportunities that are available. We discuss the specific techniques needed for each different medium. This also includes an overview of sitcom, but to consider it in more depth, the sitcom class is available.
  • Stand up is an aspect of comedy that makes a lot of students nervous at first. By trying out performing in front of a supportive class who are all doing the same, many new comics blossom when they get their hands on the microphone. Of course, the preparation involves writing their routine, thinking about their personna, and learning how to deliver their material well.
  • A quick look at funny articles, and which publications accept them, broadens the opportunities available to students.
  • There are so many other forms of comedy that to pack everything in is probably impossible, but it would be remiss not to include a look at humour for children and the differences and similarities to other work. Animation is often thought of as for children, but most adults will admit enjoying at least one recent animated film. So we discuss different ways of animating, and the medium's increasing popularity.