Comedy Writing and Performance, BA

Comedy Writing and Performance, BA

At Columbia, you’ll explore comedy across media and performing platforms. With a strong emphasis on writing, we’ll push you to take creative risks and experiment on stage regularly. By the time you graduate, you’ll be thoroughly prepared for a career in comedy.

We’ll train you in every aspect of comedy performance and production. You’ll hone your skills in the business side of the industry in specialized coursework such as Self-Management and Freelancing. Our interdisciplinary approach allows you to collaborate regularly with students from other departments such as Business and Entrepreneurship and Television.

The program’s highlight is the immersive semester you’ll spend at The Second City, culminating in a comedy review on one of its professional stages. You’ll spend 15 weeks working in the space that’s been a launching pad for comedy legends such as Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Tim Meadows and Stephen Colbert.

The skills you’ll develop in this program are highly transferrable and applicable in many different professions.

What to Expect Your First Year

Because writing is the lifeblood of comedy, you’ll study Writing and Rhetoric both semesters of your freshman year. You’ll also dive into the comedy realm with Improvisational Techniques I.

You’ll also take courses specific to the art of comedy. In Comedy Survey I and II, you’ll investigate the question of what makes us laugh and why, through a series of readings, screenings and lectures and discussion. You’ll also investigate the role of comedy in society in the areas of satire, taboo, risk, stereotype and archetype.

In your foundations courses, you’ll explore the elements and principles of process that can be applied to all aspects of comedy creation. You’ll gain a deep understanding and appreciation for the scope of contemporary comedy practices.

What to Expect Your Last Year

During your senior year, you’ll prepare to enter the world of professional comedy. You’ll make connections in Chicago’s vibrant comedy scene and continue to write, refine and perform new material, honing your unique voice as a comedy writer and performer.

As you fine-tune your individual comedic voice, you can explore electives that speak to you. You also may pursue a complementary minor to enhance your professional approach such as Writing for Television, Live and Performing Arts Management, or Voiceover.

Detailed Program Information

Download a Four-Year Plan

For More Degree Requirements and Transfer Plans, Visit the Catalog

Real-world Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

Learning the business and production side of comedy at The Second City will prepare you for a career that requires flexibility, versatility and the skill of self-promotion. You’ll receive the cross-training necessary to work in an industry where the roles of writer, performer, director and producer are fluid, and may vary as you write and perform across new and traditional media platforms. In Chicago, you will have access to many of the country’s greatest improv and stand-up stages where you can witness work in progress and meet emerging comedians from around the world.

What are my internship options?

Your semester at The Second City goes above and beyond a typical internship, so there is no requirement for Comedy and Writing Performance students to do a formal internship. Chicago has the most vibrant comedy scene in the United States and you will have formal and informal opportunities with companies that include The Onion, iO, The Annoyance, and the Chicago Sketch Fest and Chicago Improv Fest.


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