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Writing Program

Master the skills of writing sketch comedy in this writing program designed for writers and actors of all experience levels. Learn basic scene structure, character development, establish action, and learn the styles and genres of comedy.

Writing

Writing

  • Writing Levels 1-6
  • 3 Hours, 8 Weeks

Master the skills of writing sketch comedy in this program designed for writers and actors of all experience levels. Learn basic scene structure, character development, establish action, and learn the styles and genres of comedy. Weekly writing assignments and in-class exercises generate material and establish a regular writing schedule.

Writing 1

Writing 1 is for any student who is looking to start the journey of writing to and for a Second City-style revue. This class is the foundation for scenic comedy writing, a guide for utilizing an improviser’s skill set for rapid creation, and learning writing refinement.

What will I learn?

Writing 1 teaches students how to write comedic scenes that could be found in a Second City-style revue by exploring different scenic set-ups, character dialogue, genres and point-of-view. Students use improv as a tool for character and dialogue generation.

What will I do in this class?

Writing 1 class time includes a combination of solo exercises and collaborative exercises to build skills in brainstorming, comedic structure and character development. Students also gain a Second City perspective on theatrical writing – including observation, idea generation, dialogue, and character creation. Feedback focuses on ‘what works’ in terms of the structural building blocks. Class time is active, positive and encouraging.  Students practice concepts through a series of weekly homework assignments.

Who can take this class?

Any student interested in creating Second City-style comedic writing or interested in extending their improvisation abilities and experiences into writing should take Writing 1.

How long is this class?

Writing 1-6 meets once a week for three hours for eight weeks.

What do I need to bring?

Students taking Writing classes should bring something with which to write.

Will there be a performance?

There is no performance associated with Writing 1.

Why is this class important?

The concepts and tools provided in Writing 1 are the building blocks for being able to quickly and creatively write to and for a Second City-style revue. Every comedic writer must have the knowledge and skills that are offered in this course.

Writing 2

Writing 2 builds on the foundation for scenic comedy writing established in Writing 1 by expanding on scenic types, writing to cast and running order, and writing through collaboration.

What will I learn?

Writing 2 provides students with understanding of the different types of scenes found in a Second City-style sketch comedy revue. The lens of the course is focused on the Cast and the Characters. Understanding scenic formulas, writing to cast size, and character point-of-view. Students practice creating simple structures with relatable characters as they learn the building blocks of a sketch revue.

What will I do in this class?

Students in Writing 2 develop variety in their comedic scene creation by watching and analyzing a Second City-style revue and work on in-class exercises to write towards the need of a Second City running order. Students also work with one another to develop scenes as collaboration is a cornerstone of the Second City creation process.

Why is this class important?

Writing 2 focuses on the construction of a sketch comedy revue running order. Students who understand the structure of a show are able to better write to the needs of a show and its cast.

Writing 3

Writing 3 builds on the exploration into a Second City running order established in Writing 2 by focusing on the various sources of scenic inspiration and delving deeper into satirical writing.

What will I learn?

Students examine various sources of inspiration such special skills of the whole cast, other cast members, and personal experiences. As students sharpen the picture of the elements and source of Second City material, they deepen their exploration and understanding of satire and practice several formats that support strong satirical premises.

What will I do in this class?

Students in Writing 3 continue developing variety in their comedic scenes by focusing on the needs of the cast and/or the running order. Students continue to work with one another to develop scenes by collaborating on varied satirical premises.

Will there be a performance?

Writing 3 culminates in a 30-minute collaborated in-class ‘show’.

Why is this class important?

Writing 3 is important as it addresses the satirical needs of a sketch comedy revue running order as well as the skills and needs brought on by the varied talents of the cast. By filtering the lessons acquired in previous Writing levels through the lens of satire, students get better acquainted with the style and asks of a Second City-style show.

Writing 4

Writing 4 completes the writer’s toolkit with advanced skills for achieving strong point-of-view and applying scenic writing skills to custom writing opportunities.

What will I learn?

Students are challenged to heighten their jokes while deepening their satiric point of view. Songwriting and other theatrical conventions are explored. At the end of the term, students apply their skills to typical Second City writing challenges in adapting material for special audiences. Additionally, students gain a greater understanding of writing opportunities available at The Second City.

What will I do in this class?

Students in Writing 4 focus greatly on writing to need. Class time will be used on writing with a partner, rewriting, writing towards specifics projects, joke construction, and heightening.

Will there be a performance?

There is no performance associated with Writing 4, however in week 8 there is an in-class reading of material.

Why is this class important?

Writing 4 is important, as it is a culmination of the skills acquired through The Second City Writing Program. It is with this class that a student will be prepared to move into the final levels which focus on writing an actual Second City-style revue for an actual cast.

Please note: A submission for Writing 5 is due on week 4. This submission should be a new scene, and should not be revised as part of in-class work.

Writing 5

Writing 5 focuses on generating and refining written satirical material that results in a fifty-minute sketch revue script.

What will I learn?

Students in Writing 5 learn how to complete a script for a Second City-style revue through comedic writing generated from individual contributions and group collaboration. Students take on production roles to better experience what it takes to mount a comedy show.

What will I do in this class?

Writing 5 has students write a Second City sketch revue with considerations to running order, cast, variety, theme and other aspects investigated in previous Writing levels. Students hold auditions to cast their final scripted sketch show, which is produced and performed after Writing 6. In addition to completing a final script, students take on production roles to ensure that the show is mounted efficiently and effectively.

Who can take this class?

Admittance into this class is based on acceptance of a writing submission from Writing 4.

Will there be a performance?

While there is no performance at the end of Writing 5, a script is created with the intent of being performed by actors after Writing 6.

Why is this class important?

Writing 5 is important as it is puts into practice the skills acquired from previous class levels to create and produce a Second City-style revue.

Writing 6

Writing 6 focuses on producing a staged comedy sketch show by fulfilling production roles, writing to show and cast needs, and working with a director to mount a show properly and on time.

What will I learn?

Students in Writing 6 continue to refine material produced in Writing 5 while continuing to generate material based on the needs of the cast and running order. Students learn how to work with actors and a director as class time is used as rehearsal for the creation of the show. Students experience production meetings to ensure that their show is produced efficiently and effectively.

What will I do in this class?

Class time in Writing 6 is used as rehearsal time geared towards creating and producing a final show. Students work directly with the cast and director to hone existing material and to provide additional sketches as needed. Students schedule and attend production meetings to make sure that the show is created and produced in an organized and expedient fashion.

Will there be a performance?

After Writing 6 is completed, the show created in class will enjoy a 4-5 week performance run in a Second City Training Center theater.

Why is this class important?

Writing 6 is important as it is the culmination of the Writing Program guaranteeing the production and theatrical run of a Second City-style revue.

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Writing with The Onion

Writing with The Onion

  • Basic - Master
  • 3 Hours, 8 Weeks

The Second City has partnered with The Onion to present this four-level program outlining The Onion’s unique system of generating comedy ideas and stories. Learn how to create winning premises, essays and one-liners, but also find your unique comedy voice and learn to trust it to produce reliably successful humor writing. You’ll work through The Onion’s multi-step process in a workshop environment.

Basic Writing with The Onion

The first level is an introduction to The Onion’s unique top-down approach to comedy writing, and how to implement that approach to craft successful comedic premises and concepts. This class focuses on the most important element: the art of the Onion headline.

Intermediate Writing with The Onion

Writers will learn how to write a successful comedic story, hone their prose to a fine edge, and apply The Onion’s style of comedy creation to cultivate their own voice and style. In hands-on workshops, students work with the instructor and with other students to develop foundational comedy-article writing skills.

Advanced Writing with The Onion

The laugh-potential of students’ writing turns up exponentially in this exploration of comedy writing in groups. In Advanced Writing with The Onion learn to navigate the egos and politics of a writers room to create the most successful possible comedy using The Onion’s counter-intuitive ego-less creation process, resulting in an end product that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

The Onion Master Class

This class mimics the real Onion writers’ room, giving students an experience very similar to working at The Onion. By applying all techniques learned in the first three levels, students produce publish-worthy humor stories, articles or features. This course features intense hands-on work with the instructor, as well as group projects.

These workshops may not be offered every term. If you would like to be informed when a class becomes available, please click here.

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Comedy Writing

Accelerated Writing

Accelerated Writing is for experienced writers and performers and Conservatory grads who want to improve their writing skills without immersing themselves in the Writing Program. It could be good for people looking to submit writing packets or those who are planning to move to one of the coasts to…

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Writing for Actors

Scenario: You’re an actor who excels at performing scripted material. You’re an improviser who’s quick on their feet. You’re at the point where you want to write your own stuff…except, writing is frustrating and all your scripts are garbage!

Writing for Actors focuses on writing fundamentals—story, character, and structure. The class…

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Humor Book Writing

Writing the Comedy Memoir 1

Writing the Comedy Memoir is for anyone considering writing their memoirs. It’s also for anyone who wants to learn to tell the stories of their life in a concise and entertaining way.

What will I learn?

You will learn how to tell your personal stories in a way that is engaging to…

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Writing the Comedy Memoir 2

In Writing the Comedy Memoir 2, students will read excerpts from humor memoir writers as prompts to generate our life’s material.

What will I learn?

What’s different in this level is that revising is added to the mix. Second draft writing in humorous non-fiction is chiefly focused on where to place scenes…

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Making Your Book a Reality

Have a killer idea for a book or three chapters that have been sitting around since 2013? In this class students will learn how to make their book a reality. Students will learn how to create book proposals, pitch a lit agent, and how to make social media benefit your…

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Plays and Shows

10-Minute Plays

What is the difference between a 5-minute sketch and a 10-minute play? Those extra minutes mean everything in this course that will explore character, story and subtext. Students will complete and revise a 10-minute play that will be ready for submitting to contests or festivals.

3 hours, 8 weeks

This workshop is…

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One Person Show Workshop

The best way to get work is to make work! Ever fantasized about creating your own one person show, but weren’t sure where to start? This is the course for you!

In One Person Show Workshop you can act in the best role, the one you wrote for YOU! Find your…

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One Person Show Workshop 2: More Writing and Story

You know what your one person show is. You’ve got an outline, the title, the poster (even if it’s just in your head). Now you just want the actual script! This workshop is designed for writing, writing, writing.

Specific writing exercises will give you the key points of your show: the…

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Writing the One Act Play

You’ve mastered writing sketches, now are you ready to get deep, messy and metaphorical? Learn how to slow down a bit and explore your voice as a playwright in Writing the One Act Play. Through in-class exercises and take-home assignments, you will write scenes and complete exercises that explore dramatic…

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Sketch Writing

Funnier Together - Writing About Diversity

Funnier Together is a sketch writing class devoted to an open dialogue about diversity—what it truly means and how it affects us all. Open to absolutely anyone who has something to say about the state of our world and is either all too familiar with—or curious about—being “othered”. This class…

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Satire in Action

Write a satirical sketch and…then what?

Students will write comedic sketches about issues they are passionate about and then explore how else they can express their outrage in the world. This class will cover creative civil disobedience (no laws will be broken, sorry) via fake Twitter accounts, mock websites, faux press…

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Writing Comedy for Business Clients

Intro to Writing Comedy for Business

Writing Comedy for Business Clients is for anyone interested in using their improv and writing skills as a means to generate income.

What will I learn?

In this class you will learn how to create digital content geared for a corporate client.  This consists mostly of marketing and internal training videos that…

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Comedy and Advertising

Comedy and Advertising is a writing class designed to help students learn how to evaluate a brand’s tone and style. Students will figure out a brand’s advertising strategy, then pitch an ad idea for that brand using advertising elements such as scripting, storyboarding, and mood boards.

What will I learn?
Comedy and…

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Writing for TV & Film

Intro to Writing for TV & Film

In Intro to Writing for TV & Film you will learn how to write quickly and improvisationally while applying the stylistic and format requirements of film and TV to discover the key moments of your story. You will explore visual storytelling, screenplay format, story structure, and character development. You will…

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Screenwriting 1

Screenwriting 1 is for serious screenwriters looking for help turning a jumble of ideas into a sharp script that will turn heads.

What will I learn?

The specifics of screenwriting format and structure.

What will I do in this class?

Table reads, workshops and class discussions that will culminate with you leaving the…

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The Sitcom Writers Room

The Sitcom Writers Room is for improvisers who want to get a feel of what it’s like to work in a professional writers room. It is good for anybody who is considering moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in writing.

What will I learn?

You will learn how a writers…

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Writing the Sitcom Pilot

Writing the Sitcom Pilot is for serious writers who want to develop an original sitcom pilot script. It is also for people who feel they have a great premise for a sitcom but don’t have a lot of writing experience.

What will I learn?

You will learn about story structure, outlining, formatting…

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Writing the Sitcom Spec Script

Writing the Sitcom Spec Script is for serious writers who want to get into writing television sitcoms as their career. It is valuable for those planning to move to Los Angeles to become a working television writer and those looking to have a professional writing sample packet.

What will I learn?

You…

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How to Write Better Female Characters

Learn all about how to write better female characters through the power of harnessing tropes (Tropes = overused plot device). Each week will feature a unique challenge that will empower each writer to conquer their fear of writing for female voices. Through in class writing exercises, you will develop scripts…

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Writing for the Web

Writing Humor Pieces for the Web

Learn the craft of writing long-form humor pieces for sites like McSweeney’s, Shouts & Murmurs, and the Second City Network. Whether you’re looking to get your work published online or just want to push yourself as a comedy writer, this class will help you find and polish your comedic voice….

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Writing with The Onion

Viral Video Writing with The Onion

What does writing have to do with creating an online video that gets a lot of traffic? Everything! Learn the magic formula developed by Scott Dikkers, founder of theonion.com and its video subdivision ONN — a system of short scriptwriting calculated to create videos with the best possible odds of…

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Writing Drop-In

Writing Drop-In

Having troubles setting time aside for writing? Need a writing accountability buddy? The Second City is offering a writing drop-in class. At the beginning of each session you’ll say what you’re working on and at the end you’ll say what you hope to work on during the week. What you…

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Private Lessons

Private Lessons

One-On-One Coaching

The Second City Training Center offers individual, customized coaching in a variety of areas including, but not limited to:

Acting
Monologue prep
On-camera audition prep
Dialects Accent Coaching

Youth & Teen Coaching
Audition Prep
Monologue Prep

Writing
Advanced sketch critique
Screenplay & Sitcom coaching
Sketch Production (Coaching a group through their first production)
Sketch generation & critique…

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