The Virginia G. Piper
Center for Creative Writing

Home / The Piper Writers Studio / Rebecca Byrkit / Having a Blast: The Art of Comedy and Writing

Having a Blast: The Art of Comedy and Writing with Rebecca Byrkit

Date(s): Wednesdays, 6:30 - 8:30 pm, April 5 - 26, 2017
Piper Writers House, 450 E Tyler Mall, Tempe, AZ 85281 (view map)

Genre and Form(s): Essays, Fiction, Memoir


About the Class

Are you funny? Do folks tell you should "go into comedy"? Do belly-laughs, snickers, smirks behind your hand, blurts of laughter (sometimes odd ones), or moments of nonverbal hilarity pass between you and others during serious situations ... characterize your daily life? Would you like to write about these moments?

Writing with humor is a joy. To do so often taps into the most authentic, least expressed-in-writing, parts of our personality. Here, we embrace the role of humor, of comedy, of laughter (that we enjoy, and that we impart) in our lives, and in our stories. Ours is a writing workshop that celebrates the funny in ourselves, in others, and in the world.

Here, the mood is friendly and open and full of "Let me tell you about this!" stories, shared aloud and in some new writing. Thus our course is based in memoir -- actual stories about ourselves or situations that we find funny, and memorably so. Our focus is on the nature on the anecdote. In our class, we also share favorite examples of our favorite comedians (usually performers) and humorists (usually writers).

The book I ask you to order and read in advance is Humor Me: An Anthology of Funny Contemporary Writing (Plus Some Great Old Stuff Too). We enjoy samples of humor from Roy Blount, Jr., Bruce Jay Friedman, Veronica Geng, Jack Handey, Garrison Keillor, Steve Martin, and Calvin Trillin, as well as work by newer comic writers like Andy Borowitz, Larry Doyle, Simon Rich, George Saunders, and David Sedaris … and a handful of our “elders,” like Bret Harte, Elizabeth Bishop, Donald Barthelme, and Mark Twain. It's easily available very inexpensively through Amazon or one of its ancillary booksellers.

I'll also provide a Handbook for you (no charge!) that asks you do consider three things: 1) What do I think is funny? 2) What are the funniest things I've ever seen or experienced? 3) How do I write about funny things, in a funny way?

Two weeks before the class begins, I'll send you the Handbook via email. (Please let me know you've enrolled: The Handbook includes fun personal surveys, links to comedy performances and humorous texts, and exercises that will help you write in a form we call the humorous vignette, or the short, funny scene. It’s a great form. We’ll have fun!

Meet Your Instructor

Rebecca Byrkit is a Clinical Professor of Liberal Studies with the Master of Liberal Studies Program at ASU and serves as Affiliate Faculty in Creative Writing. Among her courses: Writing About Social Issues, Travel Writing, The Arrival of Belief, Poetry and Memory, and The Memoir and Personal Essay, as well as creative writing workshops at all undergraduate levels. Rebecca served as a visiting faculty member at the American College of Greece in Athens and taught creative writing at the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University.