Create Comedy Like a Pro
3.6 (15 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
972 students enrolled
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Create Comedy Like a Pro

And Improve Your Own Writing With Humor
3.6 (15 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
972 students enrolled
Created by Robert Mills
Last updated 10/2015
English
Current price: $10 Original price: $75 Discount: 87% off
5 hours left at this price!
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Includes:
  • 3 hours on-demand video
  • 23 Articles
  • 63 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Write comedy monologues, sketches, interviews and inject humor into their own writing.
View Curriculum
Requirements
  • No experience necessary, although a sense-of-humor would be helpful.
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.

Who 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.
Compare to Other Improv Courses
Curriculum For This Course
109 Lectures
05:31:23
+
INTRODUCTION TO THE COURSE: Aims of the Lectures, History of Comedy
4 Lectures 11:04


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.

Preview 06:00

RADIO COMEDY: The Bridge Between Vaudeville and Television
01:29
+
LEARNING WHAT CONSTITUTES A "JOKE" AND WHAT'S REQUIRED TO CREATE THEM
4 Lectures 20:04

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.

Preview 05:05

WHAT CAUSES LAUGHTER?
10 questions

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.

Preview 04:51

What Causes Laughter?
10 questions

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.

FREE ASSOCIATION AND MISDIRECTION
04:58

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

METHODS of MISDIRECTION
05:10

Misdirection
10 questions
+
USING JOKES TO CREATE PERFORMABLE COMEDY ROUTINES: The Monologue
4 Lectures 18:22

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.

Preview 05:35

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.

ANATOMY OF A MONOLOGUE
08:03

The Monologue
10 questions


CONSTRUCTING THE TOPICAL MONOLOGUE
4 pages
+
TYPES OF MONOLOGUES (Political)(Military)(Holiday)(Foreign)
26 Lectures 47:43

THE POLITICAL MONOLOGUE (Video)
07:11

THE INTERNATIONAL MONOLOGUE (Jerry Ford Library)
5 pages


THE CAMPUS MONOLOGUE
6 pages


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


THE MILITARY MONOLOGUE: U.S.S. Iwo Jima
1 page

Video Lecture Link MILITARY MONOLOGUE USS Iwo Jima
00:02

THE MILITARY MONOLOGUE: The U.S. Air Force Academy
3 pages



THE MILITARY MONOLOGUE Annapolis
1 page

THE HOLIDAY MONOLOGUE (Christmas)
2 pages


THE FOREIGN MONOLOGUE Auckland, Sydney, Brisbane
1 page

THE FOREIGN COUNTRY MONOLOGUE Perth, Australia
2 pages


THE FOREIGN COUNTRY MONOLOGUE Peking, China
3 pages



Video Lecture Link DEDICATION MONOLOGUE Ford Theater
00:03

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SKETCH WRITING: The "Set up," the "Premise" and the "Blackout"
5 Lectures 20:06

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.

Preview 04:24

Sketch Writing (Part 1)
10 questions

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
04:42

Sketch Setups
10 questions

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

PREMISE DEVELOPMENT
06:13

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

Preview 04:47

The Blackout
10 questions

BASICS OF SKETCH CONSTRUCTION
6 pages
+
TYPES OF SKETCHES (Parody)(Military)(Sports Themed)(Holiday)(Anthropomorphic)
46 Lectures 51:14

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."

TV MINI SERIES PARODY "Son of Shogun"
2 pages


TV MINISERIES PARODY "Backstairs at Buckingham Palace"
1 page




MOVIE PARODY "Wings"
1 page


MOVIE PARODY "Superiorman"
7 pages

THE MOVIE PARODY "Reds"
1 page

THE MILITARY SKETCH "World's Oldest Cadet" Air Force Academy
2 pages


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"
00:03

THE MILITARY SKETCH "First Class at West Point"
2 pages


THE MILITARY SKETCH "Plebes at Sea" Annapolis
1 page


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


THE SPORTS THEMED SKETCH "Rest Home For Coaches"
3 pages


THE SPORTS THEMED SKETCH "Umpire Psychiatrist"
3 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



THE LITERARY CLASSIC SKETCH Huckleberry Finn
1 page

HISTORIC EVENT COSTUME SKETCH Annapolis
1 page

THE ANTHROPOMORPHIC SKETCH The Koalas
2 pages


HOLIDAY (CHRISTMAS) SKETCH "Miami Nice"
1 page

THE HOLIDAY SKETCH Christmas Red Skelton
1 page

THE HOLIDAY SKETCH Christmas Angie Dickinson
1 page

THE HOLIDAY SKETCH Christmas Bonnie Franklin
1 page

THE HOLIDAY SKETCH Kirk Cameron Christmas
1 page
+
COMBINING COMEDY WITH MUSIC
9 Lectures 06:47
THE COMEDY DUET "Cruisin' Down the River"
2 pages

SONG & DANCE WITH COMEDY BREAKS "Small Fry"
1 page




SKETCH BASED ON A MUSICAL "Show Boat"
1 page



Video Lecture Link "Comic Lip Synch Trio"
00:03
+
WRITING THE COMIC INTERVIEW: Difference Between "Character" and "Real Life"
10 Lectures 10:23


COMIC INTERVIEW (Real Life) Howard Cosell)
3 pages


COMIC INTERVIEW (Character) Don Knotts
1 page

COMIC INTERVIEW (Character) "World's Oldest Man"
1 page

COMIC INTERVIEW The Interpreter
08:09

COMIC INTERVIEW (Cartoon Characters) The Muppets
02:05


Video Lecture Link "Miss Piggy, Sports Agent"
00:00

Comic Interview
10 questions

FINAL EXAM
20 questions
+
WRITING COMEDY AS A PROFESSION
1 Lecture 00:00
About the Instructor
Robert Mills
3.6 Average rating
15 Reviews
972 Students
1 Course
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).