Comedy Arts - Courses

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Initial Required Course:
Students must complete this course with a B- or better prior to entering the module. Students may be concurrently enrolled in this course when applying for admission to the module.

RTVF 230-0 - Understanding Media Contexts
RTVF 260-0 - Foundations of Screenwriting

Students must take any 3 of the following courses.

SOC RTVF 360  - Improv for Writers (Ryan) or SOC RTVF 298  - Intro to Improvisation (McCrackin)  (students cannot take both of these courses for credit)

SOC RTVF 360  - Writing the 1/2 Hour Pilot (Camblin)
SOC RTVF 360 - Writing Compelling Characters (Bradshaw)
SOC RTVF 360 - Writing and Performing Stand-up (Camblin)
SOC RTVF 360 - 1/2 Hour Spec Script (Camblin)
SOC RTVF 360 - Writing the Horror, Fantasy and Supernatural Script (Neveu)
SOC RTVF 298 - “TV Comedy" - Studies in Media Topics
SOC Theatre 330 - Topics in Theatre: Comedy's Roots in Chicago Improv
SOC Theatre 379 - Comedy and Film Performance (Cone)
SOC Theatre 312-1-20 The Art of Storytelling (Kelso)
SOC Theatre - 442 - Directing Comedy (Thebus)
SOC COMM ST - 394 - "LOLs, Deconstructed" - Comm Studies Research
Seminar (this class restricted to Comm Studies majors)

Appropriate substitutions or possible future classes in comedy performance (stage comedy acting, acting in the Shakespearean comedy, character acting, etc.) or comedy genre (late night comedy, comedy podcast, dark comedy, global comedy, the comedic graphic novel, the comedic documentary, etc.) may be approved by the module coordinator. Students seeking approval of a substitution should submit a written request including a rationale for the substitution. Students are encouraged to get approval in advance of completing a course, as having completed the course will not be a factor in substitution decisions.

Suggested courses for further study outside SoC:
WCAS COMP LIT - 303 - “Comedy” - Literary Movements
WCAS COMP LIT - 201 - “Comedy & Gender" - Reading World Literature
WCAS GERMAN - 307 - German Humor and the Media - German Media
WCAS ENGLISH - 332 - Staging Desire in Renaissance Comedy
WCAS ART - 390 - "Drawing Humor" - Special Topics in Art

Other courses will be added as we become aware of them via students and colleagues.

Recommended opportunities for application and practice on campus:
There are multiple opportunities to learn about and create comedy through various student groups and activities:

  • Northwestern Sketch Comedy Television (NSTV): NSTV is the University’s premier sketch comedy group. Comprised of over sixty students, NSTV students write, direct, shoot, edit, promote, and act in their own sketches throughout the year. In addition to making content for the Internet and our annual premiere, NSTV produces two live comedy shows on campus, organizes educational comedy workshops/speaker events, and produces an annual video for Dance Marathon, Northwestern’s largest philanthropic organization.
  • Mee-Ow (or The Mee-Ow Show): founded at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois in 1974 by student producers Paul Warshauer and Josh Lazar. The first original Mee-Ow Show, "Just in Time," was the first performance in the newly constructed McCormick Auditorium in Norris University Center. The show has been a staple of the Northwestern theatre and comedy scene ever since.
  • The Titanic Players: Established in 1994, the group has four improv groups on campus, arranged according to years of experience together. In addition to their monthly show, they have opened for MadTV, performed improvisation live on WNUR radio, and are prevalent on Northwestern's student television network. In addition to their improv groups, they have a 3 level improv training center to teach improv classes on campus.
  • Northwestern University Comedy Forum: an Associated Student Government recognized Student group created to give aspiring comedians an outlet for performance. Founded in 2010, Comedy Forum meets weekly, bringing different types of comedians together from Northwestern’s campus to develop and perform material and prepare them for professional Stand-Up opportunities. Comedy Forum hosts Stand Up Showcases each month of the primary school year with comedians of all years.
  • Out Da Box: one of Northwestern’s most popular Campus Sketch Comedy and Improv groups. For the past thirty-one years, they have worked to bring comedy to all Northwestern Students - of all campuses, majors, and backgrounds. Their focus is one pushing boundaries, specifying comedy to the campus socially and politically.

Recommended opportunities for projects, practica, and internships off campus:
Comedy Arts students seeking off campus experiences and possible internships will find Chicago to be at the heart of comedy training and performance. Venerated establishments such as The Second City, The Annoyance Theatre, iO Chicago, Zanies Comedy Club and ComedySportz offer multiple classes, shows and events that showcase their similarities and differences. Students may also look to the local theatre listings to find comedies playing throughout Chicago, from short form sketch comedies at venues such as The Up Comedy Club to the classics and new comedies at well-known theatres such as Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company and The Goodman Theatre (just to name a few). Discount tickets are often available for performances by calling the box office and many module faculty can suggest or have contacts within these organizations. Theaters and comedy venues are also often looking for volunteers to help out behind-the-scenes and contacting them regarding this kind of work can offer further insight into the creation and practice of comedy.