The Writing Program
The Comedy Lab
The Comedy Lab is a TV comedy writing program, created by TV comedy writers, with far reaching practical applications for every student! It consists of four eight-week classes, the end result of which is either a TALK SHOW PORTFOLIO, an SNL SKETCH PACKET, a SITCOM SPEC SCRIPT, or a TV PILOT PRESENTATION, which the student can put to immediate use to further his or her career!
The Comedy Lab is both a program and a process, which the student can elect to take in order (Talk Show, Sketch, Sitcom, then Pilot), or out of order, or backward, or whatever—it’s completely up to the student. And along with all the jokes, sketches, outlines, etc… we also stress the business side of things (i.e. getting a literary agent).
Plus, The Comedy Lab’s four classes are constantly being offered, rotating through every session in their established time slots. For example, if a student were to take the TALK SHOW PORTFOLIO class on Friday, 3-6pm during the fall, he or she would be able to take the next class in the process, the SNL SKETCH PACKET class, during the winter session, in that same time slot of Fridays, 3-6pm; with all four classes being offered at various times to suit any student’s schedule: Mondays 6:30-9:30pm, Tuesdays 6:30-9:30pm, Fridays 3-6pm, Fridays 6:30-9:30pm, Saturdays 12-3pm, and Saturdays 3:30-6:30pm!
SNL Sketch Packet
SNL SKETCH PACKET, is an eight-week course that has as its goal an SNL sketch packet, comprised of at least eight separate sketches, suitable for submission to literary agents, TV producers, as well as SNL itself—and to that end the student has complete access to all that The Comedy Lab and The iO Theater has to offer, including the performance of his or her material by The Comedy Lab Players (a rotating cast of 15 talented sketch actors).
Here’s how the course shakes out week-to-week: the student learns to write jokes based on the news, as well as a cold opening sketch (1st week); those jokes are then expanded into two separate host-type monologues (2nd week); the student then creates a streamlined version of Weekend Update (3rd week); creates two commercial parody sketches and one digital short (4th week); writes for the live performance of a sketch that parodies an existing TV show, and a current film (5th week); writes a sketch that incorporates an existing character within the current ensemble (6th week); writes a cast scene comprised of five or more characters (7th week); and prepares for a live show, not to mention developing a business plan (8th week), toward the goal of getting an agent, etc…
Talk Show Portfolio
TALK SHOW PORTFOLIO, is an eight-week course that has as its goal a four- page, state-of-the-art talk show portfolio suitable for submission to literary agents, TV producers, and network executives–and to that end the student has complete access to all that The Comedy Lab and The iO Theater has to offer.
Here’s how it shakes out week-to-week: the student learns to write jokes based on the news (1st week); to expand those jokes into character and commentary monologues (2nd week); to pitch concepts for desk pieces (3rd week), remote ideas (5th week) and various segment ideas (6th week); to create two parody sketches (4th week); and to critique, assess and rewrite a rough version into a final draft (7th week); and to complete the writing and rewriting of a letter to a literary agent (8th week).
Sitcom Spec Script
SITCOM SPEC SCRIPT, is an eight-week course that has as its goal a sitcom spec script of a currently running show—whether a multi-camera network sitcom; a single-camera network sitcom; a single-camera basic cable sitcom; a single-camera premium cable sitcom; or an animated sitcom—suitable for submission to literary agents, network executives and/or TV executive producers. And to that end the student has complete access to all that The Comedy Lab and The iO Chicago has to offer.
Here’s how it shakes out week- to-week: the student chooses a show and creates six pitches (1st week); a single pitch is chosen and then partially outlined (2nd week); a detailed, scene-by-scene outline is completed (3rd week); special focus on the cold opening, the act break and the tag (4th week); completion of the first act (5th week); completion of the second act (6th week); brutal rewrites (7th week); and developing a business plan (8th week).
TV Pilot Presentation
TV PILOT PRESENTATION, is an eight-week course that has as its goal a collection of deftly written documents: treatment(s), character descriptions, episode scenarios, promo script, and pilot script–the overall goal being a thoroughly thought through concept from beginning-to-end that can be read and defended in a pitch meeting, and to that end the student has complete access to all that The Comedy Lab and The iO Chicago has to offer, including a live staged reading of the student’s completed pilot script Saturday evenings from 6:45-8pm in the Chris Farley Cabaret.
Here’s how it shakes out week-to-week: a concisely written treatment composed of three separate descriptions of the students concept in the form of a log line, a paragraph and a page (1st week); a studied list of the proposed series’ characters (2nd week); an equally studied list of at least six episode scenarios (3rd week); two two- minute promos designed to promo the concept of the show, as well as the outline for the pilot script (4th week); first half of the pilot script (5th week); second half of the pilot script (6th week); brutal rewrites (7th week); and, developing a business plan (8th week), all of which starts with the opportunity for the student to stage a reading of his or her pilot and solicit reactions from a live audience with an eye on a more concise final draft.
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