IntroSems quarters and schedules subject to change--check back often. Go to Re-Approaching Stanford for weekly updates on Academic Year 2020-21.
I Bet You Think You're Funny: A Workshop in Humor
What makes writing funny? What are we doing when we try to be funny? Most importantly, what’s funny about you? This course will be a creative writing workshop in which you’ll exercise your native wit by writing short pieces of humor for the readership of your classmates.
Humor occupies a large territory in our lives as a kind of daily lubricant that makes the rest of life bearable. We regularly seek it in our amusement and value it highly in our friends, yet we seldom address humor directly in the academy, as if it weren’t worthy of or susceptible to inquiry. In this course, we’ll look at principles and structures that writers have, over the years, repeatedly used to make things funny, read examples of humor ranging from Twain to Hannah Gadsby to analyze and use as models, and study competing theorists on the subject, running the gamut from philosopher Henri Bergson to Looney Tunes director Chuck Jones.
In the service of creating and understanding humor, we’ll also explore questions about what purposes humor serves, what our sense of humor reveals about us, and what relationship humor has with culture and history.
We’ll meet synchronously on Zoom and look to interact in and out of class in as many ways as possible. You’ll spend much of your time sharing your writing and discussing the work of your fellow humorists in small groups, and you’ll have one-on-one time with me as well. I’ll use Canvas to distribute most or all of our texts, and I’ll post and stream videos. Expect to write three short humor pieces, give a brief presentation, and collaborate on writing a comedy sketch with a team of colleagues.
Read Prof. Porter’s “Return of the Ape Man” published in My Name Was Never Frankenstein (2019, Indiana University Press).