“A joke is like building a mousetrap from scratch. You have to work pretty hard to make the thing snap when it is supposed to snap.”
— Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without A Country
In this intensive, we will closely examine strategies used by humor writers. We will look at dark humor and slapstick and evaluate comedic timing in essays and fiction. Our discussions will also revolve around sustaining humor: how long can we be funny? When in our work and where? How can we inject our prose with a sense of the comic that is appropriate to our material? Our explorations will extend into generative prompts and collaborative exercises in which we evoke in our own writing techniques we identify in the laugh-out-loud prose of Kingsley Amis, Melissa Broder, Sloane Crosley, Helen Fielding, Miranda July, George Saunders, David Sedaris, P.G. Wodehouse, and others. We will also discuss strategies for delivering comic material to an audience and platforms for publishing.
Theodora Ziolkowski is the author of the novella On the Rocks, winner of a 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Award, and the short story chapbook Mother Tongues, winner of The Cupboard’s 2015 contest. Her poetry and short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Glimmer Train, Prairie Schooner, Arts & Letters, North American Review, Los Angeles Review, and Short Fiction (England), among other journals, anthologies, and exhibits. A Best New Poets and four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Theodora Ziolkowski holds an MFA from the University of Alabama and is pursuing her PhD in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Houston. She teaches creative writing workshops at Inprint, Writespace, and Grackle and Grackle, and recently served as Poetry Editor for Gulf Coast and Fiction Editor for Big Fiction.