Everyone thinks they’re funny. Most people are wrong. There are, however, those few people that are naturally hilarious or have a mind for comedy. There’s now a legitimate academic institution — Emerson College — where even the mildly funny can hone their craft.
Beginning in September 2016, undergraduates looking to brush up on their on-screen performance skills or comedy-writing abilities will be able to work toward a bachelor of fine arts degree in the “Comedic Arts.”
“This is going to be a hands-on program,” said Martie Cook, Emerson’s associate chairwoman of visual and media arts department. “If you want to be a sitcom writer, we are going to take you through sitcom writing, and you will walk out of here with several scripts in your hand that you can then show to agents and producers, so you actually have a portfolio.”
The college also promises that students will be trained in “how to write jokes for both the stage and the screen to help find their voices as comedians.” There will be production courses, comedy editing courses, and classes dissecting the art and theory of laughter.
So what does a college know about comedy? Well, it’s got an extensive list of funny alumni, including Jay Leno, Bill Burr, Harris Wittels, and Denis Leary.
Get your wallets ready to collect my two-cents because here it comes — as a writer of humor, a former part-time stand-up comic and a lover of comedy but past and present, it think this idea has both positive and negative aspects. On the one hand, the people who genuinely want to pursue a career in comedy are able to do it immediately and not waste four years of time and money pursuing a career in a bullshit major to make their parents happy while doing open mics and sketch shows on weekends. It’s rare for people to “fall into comedy” and most successful comedians and writers know at an early age that they want to do something, anything, in comedy.
Here comes the second cent…HOWEVER…I do feel like the best comedy comes from life experiences and pursuits apart from comedy. It helps each writer and performer bring a different area of expertise into a joke, sketch or sitcom. For example, a writing room of funny people with backgrounds in English, history, medical and even accounting will put out a much better packet of material than a room filled with writers who only studied comedy. Look at some of the greatest comedians of all time and they all have a fascinating origin story. Sometimes the best path to comedy isn’t comedy. If that makes any sense.
That said, it’s great that colleges (at least this one) are willing to adapt and offer bachelor degrees in areas of study that aren’t the same old business, art, communications blah, blah blah.
[via Boston Globe]