Course Outline for Be Funny!

Week 1

Lesson 1- The History of Comedy. A capsule review of comedy's roots, or 'I betcha there were some really funny Cro-Magnons.'

We'll start the course with a capsule review of comedy's roots. From ancient Egyptian graffiti to slapstick Viking sagas, humor has been a part of our world since humans first walked erect and realized that their hands were now free to applaud Ogg, that funny guy in the 9th cave.

Lesson 2- Observation. 'It's funny because it's true.' Honing your powers of observation is the first step toward sharpening your wit.

"It's funny because it's true." Honing your powers of observation is the first step toward sharpening your wit. This lesson will help you understand some of the secrets of the great observational comics like Steven Wright, and Jerry Seinfeld. Bring a notebook, a pair of eyes, and a willingness to use them.

Week 2

Lesson 3- The Unexpected & Joke Construction. Now that you've observed reality, you need to learn to look at the world sideways, and apply that knowledge.

Now that you've observed reality, you need to learn to look at the world sideways and apply that knowledge. Clever wordplay can be a fast-track to a laugh. In today's lesson, you'll learn how to construct a joke, write a pun, twist a cliché, use the unexpected, and begin to dazzle with your humor.

Lesson 4- Absurdity & Exaggeration. These are time-tested and wonderful sources of comedy. Absurdity is about finding your inner strangeness. Exaggeration is a major source of comedy. Really. It's HUGE.

Today we'll look at absurdity and exaggeration—two time-tested and wonderful sources of comedy. Absurdity is about finding your inner strangeness. Exaggeration is a major source of comedy. Really. It's HUGE.

Week 3

Lesson 5- Low humor, mean humor, sexual innuendo, bathroom humor -- let's face it, they're all really easy. But do you need these crutches? Heck yeah.

Low humor, mean humor, sexual innuendo, bathroom humor—let's face it, they're all really easy. But do you need these crutches? Heck yeah. This lesson also includes a discussion of mean humor and gallows humor. What do they all have in common? The ability to offend people. In today's lesson, you'll learn how to walk that line without stepping over it.

Lesson 6- Pop Culture, or If I See One More Brady Bunch Reference, I'm Going to Throw a Football At Your Nose. Pop culture is a humorists' best friend.

Today's lesson: Pop Culture, or "If I See One More Brady Bunch Reference, I'm Going to Throw a Football At Your Nose." Pop culture is a humorist's best friend. From television and movies, to music and consumables, to politics and social trends, you'll find a wealth of material to aid you in your quest for amusement.

Week 4

Lesson 7- Visual humor. Good sight gags are tougher than you'd think. It's important to learn how to communicate without words.

Good slapstick or sight gags are tougher than you'd think. It's important to learn how to communicate without words. Few things are as memorable or as funny as a perfectly executed piece of visual humor. In today's lesson, you'll learn by looking at examples from the comedians of the silent screen to Lucille Ball and beyond.

Lesson 8- Satire, Parody and Sarcasm. Why think up original material when there's so much stuff out there you can just make fun of?

Why think up original material when there's so much stuff out there you can just make fun of? Making fun of TV shows, movies, songs, social habits, or politicians can help you tap into brand new pockets of humor within you. Whatever your interests, there are opportunities for you to turn your wit toward the object of your admiration. This lesson will guide you in that quest.

Week 5

Lesson 9- Improvisation. Nothing hones your wit and pumps up those comic reflexes like improv.

Nothing hones your wit and pumps up those comic reflexes like improvisation. It's the perfect workout regime for the budding humorist. Today you'll learn the rules you need to follow to perform improvisational comedy—rules that can help you sharpen your wit and quicken your comebacks.

Lesson 10- Using Humor in Your Life. There are countless ways to use your humor every day.

There are countless ways to use humor every day. This lesson will guide you through using your newly honed sense of humor in business and social situations. You'll find out the remarkable benefits laughter has on our health.

Week 6

Lesson 11- Comedy Writing. You know how to be funny, now let's apply it.

You know how to be funny, now let's apply it. Today we'll explore comedy writing. Using the example of writing a script for television, you'll learn the blow-by-blow process of how to write and sell a script from someone who's worked in the industry.

Lesson 12- Marketing your brilliance. Now that you're a comic genius, you have an opportunity to cash in!

Now that you're a comic genius, you have an opportunity to cash in! In our final lesson, we'll explore some of the many markets open to you as a comedy writer: greeting cards, t-shirts, bumper stickers, comic books, comic strips and panels, gag writing, speech writing, advertising, print humor, and Web sites.

What do others think?

‘As a university professor, I have designed and taught online courses myself, so I wanted to see what it was like to be an online student. I have very much enjoyed the course and I have greatly appreciated Joanna's teaching style, her support, feedback and constant encouragement. As a result I have learned a lot, more than I expected to, about many different areas of life, connected by humour. Thank you very much, Joanna.’

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