New humour writing program helps hone comic voices

Sponsored feature: presented by Humber x NOW Digital Residency

“The great thing about humour writing is that you aren’t restricted to Canada at all,” says Andrew Clark, the Humber College instructor who’s been developing a new one-year program on humour writing for the school’s online offerings. “You can have your own website, you can publish in American or Canadian or British magazines or newspapers.”

For writers who have a knack for being funny and want to hone their talent for publication online or in print, there are plenty of opportunities for getting their work out into the world. While TV writing has often been the traditional medium of choice for comedy writers, the proliferation of Internet-based publications with a global reach has given strong comedic voices countless venues for building a career. 

Clark mentions that humour-focused websites like McSweeney’s, The Beaverton and Walking Eagle News – as well as mainstream print publications like The New Yorker – are just some of the outlets available to writers who know how to craft a solid comedic piece. Humour Writing at Humber gives you one year to experiment with your voice and find where you might fit in. 

“The goal for the program is to help people who are funny, talented and want to make their way as writers learn from experienced humourists on some different approaches in terms of genre and writing technique,” says Clark. 

Each student is paired with a mentor to work on a focused area of humour writing that could range from short, punchy articles to fiction to personal essays. It’s up to the individual student to decide where to train their eye – although there will also be many weekly opportunities to learn from professional humour writers who might specialize in more specific kinds of writing. 

Because this course is online, writers get more comfortable with driving their process on their own, which will be helpful for establishing momentum after graduation. “Humour writers tend to work alone,” says Clark. This is an aspect of the writing life he knows well, having been published in numerous Canadian magazines and newspapers throughout his career. 

“There will be some bouncing around of ideas, but we’re going to be helping people learn to work in a solitary manner. It’s a lot more like writing as a journalist rather than a TV writer.”

This is where the relationship with a Humber mentor will come in handy, as he or she will supply each student with project-specific feedback that will help round out a writer’s toolkit. In addition to writers like Mike Sacks, the author of multiple books and articles for numerous international publications, faculty mentors will range from local writers to experienced professionals located around the world. 

Along with writing-specific training, students will also be challenged to develop the kinds of real-world, self-management skills that are mandatory for anyone who wants to develop a lasting career as a writer. 

“You don’t go to a place like Second City with your Humber diploma and ask ‘When do I start?'” says Clark. “What Humber does is it immerses you and gets you honed and ready to pay your dues. Like any writing, it’s hard work but the program will get you further ahead in the race.”

Visit the Humber x NOW Digital Residency to learn more.


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