Steve Kaplan | Comedy Expert
I've been teaching and lecturing about comedy around the world for years. My first book, The Hidden Tools of Comedy is a best-seller in its field. I've also written, The Comic Hero's Journey: Serious Story Structure for Fabulously Funny Films and am currently working on a third, about writing comedy for television.
In addition to having taught at UCLA, NYU, Yale and other universities, I created the HBO Workspace, the HBO New Writers Program and was co-founder and Artistic Director of Manhattan Punch Line Theatre. In addition to development projects for HBO, I've taught taught workshops at companies such as DreamWorks, Disney Animation, Aardman Animation, NBC's Writers on the Verge, and others.
There are a number of people who teach screenwriting, but there are few who teach comedy. And most are teaching stand-up or improv. My course is one of the only places to learn about the art and science, the physics and philosophy of comedy: what it is, how it works, WHY it works, what's going on when it DOESN'T work, and what you can do to fix it.
Dorothy Parker once described the ability to write comedy as being able to have "a sharp eye, and a wild mind." I'd add the perception to see the absurdities of the world we live in, the courage to include yourself as part of that absurd world, and the ability to share that truth with others. And the occasional bathroom humor.
Unlike some, I teach principles, not rigid formulas. My equation for comedy—An ordinary guy (or gal) struggling against insurmountable odds, without many of the required skills and tools with which to win, yet never giving up hope—expresses not so much a formula but rather a metaphor that describes our existence in this world. We’re all just ordinary people, struggling to live our lives as best we can without super powers or unlimited resources. The main difference between comedy and drama is how we face that struggle. In comedy, no matter what, there is hope.
As metaphor, this perspective invites creativity rather than stifles it, and it allows artists as divergent as Greta Gerwig and Oscar Wilde to still tell tales about human beings struggling to make sense of an absurd world. The best comedies avoid conventional structures—they create their own. Eschewing formula, the best artists hold true to the basic principle of comedy: telling the truth about human beings.
In addition to private coaching and one-on-one consultations, Steve has taught his Comedy Intensive workshops to thousands of students around the world, including--in pre-pandemic times--Los Angeles, New York, Australia, Rio, Moscow and Mumbai. He's presently teaching online on Zoom. You can find out all about it at KaplanComedy.com.
Order my books Hidden Tools of Comedy
or The Comic Hero's Journey
Follow me on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/KaplanComedy
Twitter at Twitter.com/skcomedy