Create Comedy Like a Pro

And Improve Your Own Writing With Humor
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  • Lectures 109
  • Contents Video: 3 hours
    Other: 2.5 hours
  • Skill Level Beginner Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 12/2014 English

Course Description

Create Comedy Like a Pro

And Improve Your Own Writing With Humor

Learning Objectives

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!

Course Summary

Topics covered in this course (along with 4+ hours of video examples) include:

The History of Humor in America

  • English roots (tabloid shows, burlesque)
  • Vaudeville (W.C. Fields, Fred Allen)
  • Radio (Jack Benny, Fred Allen)
  • Film (Abbott & Costello, Martin & Lewis)
  • Television (variety shows, sitcoms, unscripted reality)

The Anatomy of a Joke

Verbal magic (“hiding the technique”)

The setup

Misdirection (creating an expectation)

The reveal (punch line)

Necessity of Instant Recognition

Clarity in presentation

Attitude in delivery

Methods of Misdirection

Uncommon Association

Unexpected List Entry

Illogical Connection

Anthropomorphizing

Misplaced Terminology

Flippant Iconoclasm

Alliteration

Unexpected word usage

New Meaning for Familiar Phrase

Literal Interpretation

Misuse of Medical Terminology

Alternate Word Meaning

Illogical Conclusion

Misused Logic

Unlikely Comparison

Obscure Word Use

Fantasy Exaggeration

Types of Jokes

  • Topical (based on news items)
  • Slice-of-life (everyday conflicts)
  • Story-based (“Two guys walk into a bar…”)
  • Biographical (embellished from real life)
  • Observational (Ellen DeGeneres)

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

Joke Formulas

Arranging the Topics

Openings

Closings

Creating Comic Dialogue

Real Life conversation (Award show presenters)

Character Interview (Carl Riener & Mel Brooks)

Using an Already Familiar Character

  • Developing a Character
  • Avoiding “Leading Lines”
  • The “Dumb Act” (Burns & Allen)
  • Importance of the “Straight Man”

The Comedy Sketch

History of the sketch

Length

Subject matter

Film & TV Parody

Brevity

Joke-Driven Sketch

The “Set Up”

Developing the Premise

*The Conflict

*The Dilemma

*The Resolution (“Black Out’)

CONCLUSION

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.

What are the requirements?

  • No experience necessary, although a sense-of-humor would be helpful.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Write comedy monologues, sketches, interviews and inject humor into their own writing.

What is the target audience?

  • Anyone with a desire to improve their ability to create laughter in whatever form. It is not for students seeking solely to be entertained.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.

Curriculum

Section 1: INTRODUCTION TO THE COURSE: Aims of the Lectures, History of Comedy
ONE MINUTE PROMOTIONAL VIDEO (Link)
Preview
Article
INTRODUCTION
Preview
03:33
06:00

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.

RADIO COMEDY: The Bridge Between Vaudeville and Television
Article
Section 2: LEARNING WHAT CONSTITUTES A "JOKE" AND WHAT'S REQUIRED TO CREATE THEM
05:05

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.

WHAT CAUSES LAUGHTER?
10 questions
04:51

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.

What Causes Laughter?
10 questions
04:58

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.

05:10

A continuation of examining various devices used to create the misdirection that results in surprise -- necessary to get laughs.

Misdirection
10 questions
Section 3: USING JOKES TO CREATE PERFORMABLE COMEDY ROUTINES: The Monologue
05:35

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.

08:03

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 Monologue
10 questions
POINT-of-VIEW
Preview
04:44
CONSTRUCTING THE TOPICAL MONOLOGUE
4 pages
Section 4: TYPES OF MONOLOGUES (Political)(Military)(Holiday)(Foreign)
THE POLITICAL MONOLOGUE
Preview
5 pages
THE POLITICAL MONOLOGUE (Video)
07:11
THE INTERNATIONAL MONOLOGUE (Jerry Ford Library)
5 pages
THE INTERNATIONAL MONOLOGUE
Preview
14:53
THE CAMPUS MONOLOGUE
6 pages
WRITING JOKES FOR THE COLLEGE CIRCUIT (Video)
Preview
11:51
THE MILITARY MONOLOGUE Overseas USO Tours Part I
1 page
THE MILITARY MONOLOGUE Overseas USO Tours Part II
1 page
THE MILITARY MONOLOGUE Overseas USO Tours Part III
1 page
Video Lecture Link "Jokes From the Front Lines"
Preview
Article
THE MILITARY MONOLOGUE: U.S.S. Iwo Jima
1 page
Video Lecture Link MILITARY MONOLOGUE USS Iwo Jima
Article
THE MILITARY MONOLOGUE: The U.S. Air Force Academy
3 pages
THE MILITARY MONOLOGUE West Point
Preview
2 pages
Video Lecture Link "Plebes at West Point"
Preview
Article
THE MILITARY MONOLOGUE Annapolis
1 page
THE HOLIDAY MONOLOGUE (Christmas)
2 pages
Video Lecture Link "Christmas Monologues"
Preview
Article
THE FOREIGN MONOLOGUE Auckland, Sydney, Brisbane
1 page
THE FOREIGN COUNTRY MONOLOGUE Perth, Australia
2 pages
Video Lecture Link FOREIGN MONOLOGUE Perth, Australia
Preview
Article
THE FOREIGN COUNTRY MONOLOGUE Peking, China
3 pages
Video Lecture Link "55 Jokes From Peking" FOREIGN MONOLOGUE
Preview
Article
BRIDGING A CENTURIES-OLD GAP BETWEEN TWO EXTREMELY DIVERSE CULTURES WITH COMEDY
Preview
22 pages
Video Lecture Link DEDICATION MONOLOGUE Ford Theater
Article
THE MONOLOGUE IN A ROAST FORMAT
Preview
13:28
Section 5: SKETCH WRITING: The "Set up," the "Premise" and the "Blackout"
04:24

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.

Sketch Writing (Part 1)
10 questions
04:42

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.

Sketch Setups
10 questions
06:13

An explanation of premise development devices including illustrations from broadcast clips.

04:47

Various blackout devices are analyzed and illustrated by broadcast clips. The celebrity cameo including appearances by Johnny Carson, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Richard Burton

The Blackout
10 questions
BASICS OF SKETCH CONSTRUCTION
6 pages
Section 6: TYPES OF SKETCHES (Parody)(Military)(Sports Themed)(Holiday)(Anthropomorphic)
2 pages

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."

Video Lecture Link "Son of Shogun"
Preview
Article
TV MINISERIES PARODY "Backstairs at Buckingham Palace"
1 page
Video Lecture Link "Backstairs at Buckingham Palace"
Preview
Article
MOVIE PARODY "Squares at the Round Table"
Preview
2 pages
Video Lecture Link "Squares at the Round Table"
Preview
Article
MOVIE PARODY "Wings"
1 page
THE MOVIE PARODY SKETCH "Wings"
Preview
15:16
MOVIE PARODY "Superiorman"
7 pages
THE MOVIE PARODY "Reds"
1 page
THE MILITARY SKETCH "World's Oldest Cadet" Air Force Academy
2 pages
Video Lecture Link "The World's Oldest Cadet"
Preview
Article
THE MILITARY SKETCH "Coal Miner's Son" Air Force Academy
2 pages
THE MILITARY SKETCH "West Point Roommates"
1 page
Video Lecture Link "Roommates at West Point"
Article
THE MILITARY SKETCH "First Class at West Point"
2 pages
MILITARY SKETCH "First Class at West Point" Video Commentary
Preview
13:23
THE MILITARY SKETCH "Plebes at Sea" Annapolis
1 page
THE MILITARY SKETCH "Plebes at Sea" (Video Commentary)
Preview
11:29
THE MILITARY SKETCH "Staubach Signs With Navy" Annapolis
2 pages
THE MILITARY SKETCH "First Female Astronaut"
1 page
THE MILITARY SKETCH "Jonathan Winters, U.S.N."
1 page
THE MILITARY SKETCH "Cinderella Liberty"
1 page
Video Lecture Link "Cinderella Liberty"
Preview
Article
THE SPORTS THEMED SKETCH "Rest Home For Coaches"
3 pages
Video Lecture Link "Rest Home for Coaches"
Preview
Article
THE SPORTS THEMED SKETCH "Umpire Psychiatrist"
3 pages
THE SPORTS THEMED SKETCH "The Vendors"
Preview
2 pages
THE SPORTS THEMED SKETCH "Miss Piggy, Sports Agent"
2 pages
THE SPORTS THEMED SKETCH "Mound Conferences"
2 pages
THE SPORTS THEMED SKETCH "Oink Smith, Pitching Phenom"
4 pages
THE SPORTS THEMED SKETCH "The Cosells at Home"
1 page
THE SPORTS THEMED SKETCH "First Female NFL Commissioner"
1 page
THE SPORTS THEMED SKETCH "Footsie"
1 page
THE SPORTS THEMED SKETCH "Baseball According to Scripture"
1 page
TV SOAP OPERA PARODY "General Hospital"
Preview
1 page
FOREIGN SKETCH: "Bob Hope Arrives in Australia"
Preview
10:45
THE LITERARY CLASSIC SKETCH Huckleberry Finn
1 page
HISTORIC EVENT COSTUME SKETCH Annapolis
1 page
THE ANTHROPOMORPHIC SKETCH The Koalas
2 pages
Video Lecture Link "The Koalas"
Preview
Article
HOLIDAY (CHRISTMAS) SKETCH "Miami Nice"
1 page
THE HOLIDAY SKETCH Christmas Red Skelton
1 page
THE HOLIDAY SKETCH Christmas Angie Dickinson
1 page

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Instructor Biography

Robert Mills, Author, Lecturer, Comedy Writer, Attorney

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).

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