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Second City Chicago

Writing with The Onion

Second City has partnered with The Onion to present this fundamental course 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.

$380/$350 early registration each level, 3 hours, 8 weeks


Basic Writing with The Onion TERM 1 2015

Level 1 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. The class features detailed instruction with in-depth workshops.

Prerequisites: Competency with English composition and grammar.


Intermediate Writing with The Onion TERM 1 2015

Students 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-writing skills.

Prerequisites: Basic Writing with The Onion


Advanced Writing with The Onion TBA
This workshop is not currently available. If you would like to be informed when it becomes available again, please click here.

The laugh-potential of students’ writing turns up exponentially in this exploration of comedy writing in groups. They 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.

Prerequisites: Intermediate Writing with The Onion


The Onion Master Class TBA

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.

Prerequisites: Advanced Writing with The Onion


About the instructor: Scott Dikkers is the founding editor of The Onion, and its longest-serving editor-in-chief. He created its now-famous news-parody format and launched it as the world's first humor website in 1996. He executive-produced and directed the Onion News Network videos and the Onion Radio News, which have consistently ranked #1 on iTunes. He edited and co-wrote The Onion's #1 best-selling original books Our Dumb Century and Our Dumb World.

Time Magazine ranked him #43 on its list of the 50 "Digital Elite". He was featured on Entertainment Weekly's "It list" of the hottest people in entertainment, and his work has won the Thurber Prize for American Humor, a Peabody Award, and over 30 Webbys.