This recent news is no laughing matter, Emerson College is now offering a comedy major beginning in September 2016. Students interested in comedy writing or telling jokes through stand-up will get the chance to work toward a bachelor of fine arts degree in the “Comedic Arts.” Students will be learning about the history of comedy beginning from the times of the early Greeks and Romans, as well as how to write a comedy sketch for a performance. The new major will be available to study at both of Emerson’s campus locations in Boston and Los Angeles.
“This is going to be a hands-on program,” Martie Cook, Emerson’s associate chairwoman of visual and media arts department told the Boston Globe. “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 hope is that having students being taught how to write jokes for both the stage and the screen, will help them find their voices as comedians and be able to get jobs in comedy in the future. Other students more interested in studying comedy as an art or the theory of laughter will be able to take production courses and comedy editing classes.
Emerson has a lot of experience producing great comedic talent, with some of their past students being Jay Leno, Bill Burr, Harris Wittels, and Denis Leary. “Many of our faculty are people who have had experience in the industry, and who continue to work in the business. The plan is that we will also be offering master classes and events with a lot of event speakers,” Cook said.
Last year, Emerson announced a minor concentration called “Comedy: Writing and Performance,” the success and reaction towards the program is what inspired the school to make comedy a major. In today’s society, comedy is so prevalent in college student’s lives. They watch Saturday Night Live, are the main viewers for comedy-sitcom TV shows, and they get their news from comedy-news shows like, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.
Although Emerson is teaching students how to become comedians and excel at telling jokes, Boston-bred stand-up comedian Ryan Doon does advise that aspiring stand-up comics get experience along with their education. “If you want to be a stand-up comedian, don’t go to college,” he said in the Boston Globe. “Work at a Starbucks and do open mikes every single night. It’s the best way. If someone is in a position where they can pay for college and do open mikes, that would be ideal.”