So you’ve decided you want to study comedy. What’s next? I was halfway through a visual arts program when I realized I was actually interested in comedy school. I felt very overwhelmed at first, as there were so many – yet so little – options. Here’s what I’ve learned:
I had many expectations for comedy classes, but I never imagined they would take as much time and effort as they do. There are many ways to get into comedy WITHOUT going to comedy classes, no matter the route you take: be it stand up, improv, sketch etc.
In Toronto, the options are:
Humber College’s Comedy Writing and Performance Diploma, which is an extensive post-graduate program which covers a good deal of everything you need to know to be employable as a comic.
Comedy classes/programs in local theatres, such as Second City, Bad Dog, Comedy Bar, etc. If your endgame is stand up comedy, going to open mics can offer you a lot more knowledge and experience than some classes. I personally chose to pay for the classes because I’m the kind of person who needs a routine in order to function, but I fully respect others who don’t.
The two-year program was founded by Mark Breslin, who also founded Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Clubs. The faculty is AMAZING. The teachers and mentors have loads of experience working with shows like Saturday Night Live, Sunnyside, Kids in the Hall, Corner Gas, MAD TV, Goosebumps, as well as 22 Minutes.
My program at Humber is actually pretty fun. I love it. I like the fact that it’s the only comedy writing and performance diploma around. I like the fact that the founder of the program is pretty much the founder of COMEDY in Toronto. I like the fact that my teachers are super active in the industry and very qualified (some are even overqualified for the job if you ask me).
There ARE aspects in the program that could always use an update, but I am overall very happy with Humber. I have grown SO MUCH with this program, and I can feel myself improving with every assignment. I really appreciate how often we get guest speakers and outside opinion/mentorship in our projects. I especially love the fact that 80% of my assignments in this program are assignments I’m actually proud of. Proud enough to display them in my portfolio, even!
The cool thing about the second year in the program is that we get to perform weekly sketch/improv shows at Comedy Bar, plus stand up shows at Yuk Yuk’s. In the third semester, students write their original 10-minute monologues, and the best ones are performed to an audience. We also write original 10-minute plays. In the fourth (and last) semester, students perform the best 10-minute plays, followed by 2 or 3 showcases at Yuk Yuk’s and Comedy Bar. Once we graduate, Humber generally puts up an industry show, in order to showcase only the best students to the important people in the industry. That’s pretty cool, right?
There are many career options after graduating from comedy school. I will personally go down the screenwriting/sketch writing route because that’s what I’m all about. Whether you choose to be a stand up comic, an improviser, a sketch writer or even an actor, there are still countless paths to follow in comedy. And many coffee shops looking for part-time baristas, too (the story of my life), because GOD KNOWS we are not in it for the money!!