short fiction workshop 4: the comedic story

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the comedic story

“Humor is what happens when we're told the truth quicker and more directly than we're used to.”

― George Saunders

a great story is like a great joke. it has a beginning, middle, end, and works to generate a sense of speed and surprise, before cutting off just after the height of its conclusion. most of all, joke-telling is storytelling, in its most stripped down and truthful form. it’s no wonder contemporary short fiction writers have long been drawn to the art of comedy: from George Saunders’ obsession with British comedy troupe Monty Python, to story writer Amy Hempel spending a good part of the 1970s in and out of comedy clubs, absorbing the ways brevity and surprise were used to maintain an audience’s interest. in this 5 week course, students will develop the tools needed to identify the humor in their own writing, as well as utilize the structural devices of comedy in their fiction. they will also read comedic short stories of all kinds—from the deranged satire of George Saunders, to the acerbic irony of Sam Lipsyte and Ottessa Moshfegh, to the observational wit of Amy Hempel.

class size: 6 max

class structure:

discussion of assigned reading: (15-30 mins)

workshop 1: (30 mins)


workshop 2 (30 mins)

workshop 3 (30 mins)

special guest / generative exercise: (15-30 mins)

5-week workshop: $200.00 ($40/session)


thursday 7-9 pm (est) sept 24 - oct 29*

instructor: david queen

* time subject to change in order to better accommodate student time zones/schedules.

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