Create Comedy Like a Pro
And Improve Your Own Writing With Humor
In this course, you’ll be taught the basic skills that are essential to create humor. You’ll be guided step-by-step through the entire process by BOB MILLS, an experienced professional who has written jokes, sketches, speeches, song lyrics, and comedy routines for Dean Martin, Dinah Shore, Steve Allen, Bob Hope and a host of guests on their TV specials -- a seasoned practitioner of the comedic arts whose myriad assignments included writing serious magazine articles that appeared in national publications like the Saturday Evening Post and The Ladies Home Journal. He is the author of THE LAUGH MAKERS: A Behind-the-Scenes Tribute to Bob Hope’s Incredible Gag Writers which recalls his two decades travelling the globe with Bob Hope as a staff writer.
He is a firm believer that virtually anyone with a sense of humor (that includes almost everybody) can learn the craft of creating comedy by mastering the elements necessary to inject funny lines in monologues, speeches, reports, articles, scripts, and song lyrics, as well as comic dialogue -- anywhere that laughter and wit are welcome.
An instructor who was born to teach, BOB MILLS explains comedic structure in clear, concise language -- providing the student with the “nuts and bolts” of comedy writing that the old timers refer to as “laying pipe.”
Through entertaining, easy-to-understand lectures, extensive analysis, hands-on practice, and by studying the hours clips included as additional resources exclusively available to the Udemy student of actual on-air performances of monologues, sketches, and routines performed by professionals, students will become familiar with a time honored craft whose genesis can be traced back to Vaudeville and English tab shows.
In fact, by completing this course, the student will have learned so much about script writing, he or she will possess the skills needed to create laugh lines at will, and for any purpose, be it for a spec script for TV or just “punching up” a business presentation.
From blank page to scripted performance, the student becomes privy to comedy writing secrets passed down through generations of professionals dating back to Vaudeville!
Topics covered in this course (along with 4+ hours of video examples) include:
The History of Humor in America
The Anatomy of a Joke
Verbal magic (“hiding the technique”)
Misdirection (creating an expectation)
The reveal (punch line)
Necessity of Instant Recognition
Clarity in presentation
Attitude in delivery
Methods of Misdirection
Unexpected List Entry
Unexpected word usage
New Meaning for Familiar Phrase
Misuse of Medical Terminology
Alternate Word Meaning
Obscure Word Use
Types of Jokes
Consistent Point of View
Angry (Jerry Seinfeld, Louis Black)
The Victim (Richard Lewis, Rodney Dangerfield)
False Braggadocio (Don Knotts)
Improv (Jonathan Winters, Robin Williams)
Monologue Structure (order of jokes)
Rhythm and Pace (varying length)
Building the Payoff Line
Arranging the Topics
Creating Comic Dialogue
Real Life conversation (Award show presenters)
Character Interview (Carl Riener & Mel Brooks)
Using an Already Familiar Character
The Comedy Sketch
History of the sketch
Film & TV Parody
The “Set Up”
Developing the Premise
*The Resolution (“Black Out’)
Along with learning to write monologues, sketches and comic interviews, the student has learned the principles necessary to improve any writing assignment from business reports, speeches, presentations, articles, company shows, and product demonstrations. In a word, using the comedy skills they have acquired to improve their overall quality of life.
A short history of American comedy from Vaudeville to radio, movies and television. The development of comic styles. Early stars of Vaudeville transfer their talents to radio with some continuing in television and movies. A look at the development of standup comedy from Vaudeville to the present day.
We examine what mysterious element in our nature causes us to laugh. We learn that laughter is a reaction to surprise -- something we did not expect. The more surprising, the greater the laugh. Examples are shown and photo illustrated. We learn that surprise is at the heart of every joke the student will write while taking this course.
A discussion of Misdirection as a tool for creating surprise -- the key ingredient of all successful comedy. The necessity of using the strongest words to create a clear picture in the listener's mind and keeping the lines as short as possible.
Free association as a method of creating jokes. Relating the unexpected to produce surprise. Sticking with a topic as long as possible to extract as many laughs as possible from any situation. Methods of misdirection used by comedy writers.
A continuation of examining various devices used to create the misdirection that results in surprise -- necessary to get laughs.
This lecture sets out the various monologue forms developed in the US since Vaudeville including 1) Observational 2) Improvisational 3) Story 4) Fantasy as Reality and 5) Topical, the latter being the most popular form popularized by late night talk show hosts.
An analysis of a 1981 BOB HOPE monologue before an audience of celebrities celebrating Hope's 30th anniversary with NBC. It's a typical Hope performance, containing many of the formulas he had become accustomed to over the years.
The evolution of the sketch from Vaudeville to Saturday Night Live. Elements of sketch writing: 10 the setup 2) premise development 30 the Blackout. Examples of various methods to create these elements successfully.
Set up devices including 1) The telephone call 2) Thinking out loud 3) Character conversation 4) The singing Intro 5) Comic announcement 6) Plotting All are discussed and illustrated with broadcast clips.
An explanation of premise development devices including illustrations from broadcast clips.
Various blackout devices are analyzed and illustrated by broadcast clips. The celebrity cameo including appearances by Johnny Carson, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Richard Burton
Bob Hope joins his guests Merlin Olsen, Bruce Jenner, Loni Anderson, Linda Gray and Barbara Eden in a parody of ABC TV's "Shogun" called "Son of Shogun."
A native of San Francisco, Bob Mills served in the Navy after high school, graduating from San Francisco State University in 1962 and the University of California Hastings Law in 1965. He practiced in Palo Alto, CA for ten years before moving to Hollywood to write for television after being "discovered" by San Francisco radio legend Don Sherwood. He worked on the "Dinah Shore Show," the "Steve Allen Show" and the "Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts" as a staff writer. He joined Bob Hope in 1977 and traveled the world with Hope for the next seventeen years creating sketches, monologues, comedy routines, speeches, articles and parody song lyrics. In the 1990s, he co-wrote a daily topical humor column for the Los Angeles Times called "Laugh Lines."
In 1999, he became an enrichment lecturer for Crystal Cruises and for the next twelve years sailed aboard Crystal, Celebrity, and Princess cruise ships performing multimedia shows based on his experiences with Hope that he produced called "On the Road with Bob Hope," that includes clips from eighty-five Hope specials he co-wrote. He now hosts the shows along with book talks and signings at libraries, senior centers, service organizations and corporate conventions. In 2009, his book The Laugh Makers: A Behind-the-Scenes Tribute to Bob Hope’s Incredible Gag Writers was published. He's an Emeritus member of The Writers Guild of America, West and ASCAP.
He lives with his wife, Shelley, in Studio City, California with three extremely demanding rescue dogs. He was a volunteer docent at the Los Angeles Zoo (2002-2007) and a volunteer reader at Recording For the Blind & Dyslectic in Hollywood (1970-2004).