Professor Mark Leiren-young Reviews
When I took this course, the special topic was humour writing. Each week, there was a three-hour lecture talking about a different aspect of or form of comedy, including standup, clowning, and sketch comedy. We discussed what makes something funny and broke down humour into its essential parts. We also watched various clips, films, and comedy specials in class. While Mark has much industry experience in humour writing, he allows the course to consist mostly of class discussion instead of formal lecture, in which he could share his expertise more pointedly. Therefore, class often dragged and felt unstructured. Assignments included performing standup for the class; an explanation of why something was funny; and a comic memoir.
While lecture could feel unstructured at times, there were often nuggets of wisdom, so I always made a point of attending.
When I took this course, the focus was on TV writing. Each week, there was a three-hour lecture, about one hour of which was usually dedicated to watching the pilot of a popular TV show, such as Breaking Bad, Stranger Things, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We discussed what makes a pilot successful and what is difficult about writing one. Assignments included adapting a written work to a concept for a TV show; a review of a TV pilot; and a pitch for an original TV show. The biggest downfall of this course was the fact that Mark loves class discussion, and that discussion more often than not often devolved into people just talking about what they liked or disliked about the TV show of the week. So class was often just long stretches of people enjoying hearing themselves talk, which is less t...read more
If the final assignment is some kind of pitch or partial script for an original TV show or film, start thinking about your concept early on in the course. It'll save you from scrambling too much near the deadline.