Through our online newsletter, Round Table, we offer a few master courses on comedy writing. Recently we were asked to create a comedy writing course specifically for ventriloquists. We have designed an email course and we’re ready to introduce it. Basically, though, a ventriloquist routine is really a dialogue between the vent and his stage partner. The course we designed teaches how to write a 2-person comedy routine.
In writing for Bob Hope for about 28 years, I did many routines that we called “Talk Spots.” When Bob would have a guest on the show, he would often chat with them. The format for those pieces was a 2-person comedy routine.
Let me explain a little bit about this course and what the students will do and learn during the 12 weeks of lessons:
Comedy should feel very spontaneous, improvisational; but it isn’t. Jokes don’t just happen. It takes planning and research in order to prepare your mind to allow the jokes “to happen.” This course will offer a strategy for that planning and research. The method that I teach is not the ONLY way to write a 2-person exchange, but it is A WAY.
There are two factors that are essential in using this writing method. They are “Focus” and “Overwriting.” Focus means that we will break the procedure up into small bite-sized chunks. During the course, together we will decide on a topic, analyze that topic, and divide it into several pieces. When you work on your assignments, you will work on only one portion of your routine at a time. This allows you to focus and concentrate on that portion only.
“Overwriting” means exactly that. You will write more than you actually need for each segment of your routine. This serves two purposes: first, it keeps you writing longer than you ordinarily would; second, it allows you to select only your finest material for your finished routine.
Each participant will present several premises for his or her comedy routine. We’ll select one of those topics to be broken down into sub-topics, or different facets of the main topic.
Each week you will write and submit a set amount of material for whichever sub-topic you’re assigned that week. We will review your submissions and offer our suggestions on that work. However, you remain the writer and are in total control of your own material. You may accept our suggestions, accept them with your own adaptations, or ignore them completely. Remember . . . this is YOUR routine. We’ll repeat this process together several times for each of the sub-topics that you have chosen.
Eventually, you will arrange the gags you’ve written in a logical order. And in a sequence that should maximize the comedy of the dialogue. Finally, you will submit the completed routine for you and your stage partner. We’ll offer our comments on your final routine.
After going through this procedure, you should be able to do it again and again on your own and continue to write solid, funny routines for your own act. In fact, if you choose, after completing this routine, you may write another full routine on your own. If you submit it to us within 4 weeks of completing this course, we will review this routine also.
The cost of this course is $350. It should be a fun learning experience. I know we always have fun working with the comics and comedy writers who have taken our other courses. Order from http://www.comedywritersroom.com/store/
Keep on having fun with your comedy.
Note by Daniel Jay, “$350 for a 12 week course by one of the best comedy writers ever (if not the best!) Break that down folks. That’s less than $30 a week to boost your comedy writing skills. Due to the extreme amount of time Gene and Linda put into studying your progress this course is limited to a small amount of people ever 12 weeks. Be one of the first to take advantage of this before it fills up. Shoot, this is less than most community colleges charge for one credit! Sign up today! http://www.comedywritersroom.com/store/ You’ll be glad you did!”