How to Write a Fresh, Stand Out Comedy

Getting Your Unique Sense of Humor on Paper
Taught by Melissa Daykin Cassill

$249

On Demand Class - For immediate download. Unlimited access for 1 year.

Rating   | Read reviews

Start Learning

Please make sure you use the same email address as the one you use to sign in to Stage 32, otherwise you won't have access to your webinar.
apply Your coupon will be applied after you agree to terms below.

- or -

$249.00
TOTAL PRICE:
Overlay Icon

This Next Level Education class has a 93% user satisfaction rate.

Class hosted by: Melissa Daykin Cassill

Vice President at State Street Pictures

About Your Instructor, Melissa Daykin Cassill: Melissa Daykin Cassill is Vice President of State Street Pictures (Faster, Beauty Shop, Barbershop, Notorious, Nothing Like The Holidays) . She began her career at The Firm and Creative Artists Agency where she worked in the Motion Picture Literary Department. She went on to Miramax as a Creative Executive and Gunn Films (Freaky Friday, Race To Witch Mountain) as Vice President. Full Bio »

Summary

Learn directly from Melissa Daykin Cassill, Vice President of State Street Pictures (Faster, Beauty Shop, Barbershop, Notorious, Nothing Like The Holidays)

The Hangover, Bridesmaids, Little Miss Sunshine. What is it, exactly, that makes these comedies stand out from the crowd? With so many different types of comedies in the marketplace, it is becoming the toughest genre to break into. More executives are turning to A list comedians to write than actual screenwriters, so how do you get an executive's attention? How do you get past executives that have different senses of humor, jokes that don't translate internationally, and storylines that can easily get deemed outdated a year later?

Stage 32 Happy Writers is excited to bring you our 4 week online intensive class How To Write A Fresh, Stand Out Comedy taught by the Vice President of State Street Pictures, Melissa Dayin Cassill. In this hands on 4 week course, you will learn the importance of the emotional crescendo of a comedy script, how to balance the comedy with the humanity of the characters, and how to pitch your comedy script once you're ready, all while molding your pages under Melissa's supervision. With interactive lectures and weekly homework assignments directly geared towards strengthening your pages, this class will help you craft your writing into a fresh stand out comedy script that will grab executives' attention!

Purchasing gives you access to the previously-recorded live class.
Although Melissa is no longer reviewing the assignments, we still encourage all listeners to participate.

What You'll Learn

Week 1 - Introduction

Melissa will introduce herself to the class and talk about her company. Melissa will then talk about the comedy genre overall and give personal experiences on comedies she has developed and have been sold/made. She will explain the word “broad” and what the difference between a broad comedy and a character driven comedy (and which one is more marketable). Then there will be a focus on themes, ideas, or characters that would be unpalatable or unwatchable if done straight, but if conveyed through the prism of comedy are actually more communicable. Melissa will talk about her favorite comedy film, and why it worked so successfully. She will then talk about personal experiences with projects and circumstances where a script they had to be reconfigured in a certain way to make it more marketable.

Week 2 - Tone

Volunteers will go over their scenes in class and Melissa will critique them. Melissa will explain the importance of the emotional crescendo of a comedy script and when the humor should start and how to implement a successful crescendo that will have the comedy build on top of each other. Also will discuss the difference between adult and four quadrant comedies. Melissa will use the previous assigned movie as an example of how the crescendo worked. This will lead into a general discussion between her and the class on the movie overall and what they felt worked and what didn’t. Lastly, Melissa will talk about the importance of setting up the tone immediately in the first 5 pages. By page 5 the executive should already know what type of comedy it is.

Week 3 - Characterization and Layering

Volunteers will go over their scenes in class and Melissa will review what worked and what didn’t. This will lead into a discussion about balancing the comedy with humanity of the characters. Comedies needs time to breathe during the plot so the audience can catch up with the characters and check in with them. The balance between keeping the comedy escalating and keeping the characters humanistic is really important. Melissa will give advice and tips on how to find an appropriate balance and times in the script that the balance usually shifts. She will then go over ensemble comedies and how each character in an ensemble needs a distinctive quirk. She will give examples of ensemble comedies that have worked successfully because of the eclectic, distinct cast.

Week 4 - Pitching

Volunteers will go over their scenes in class and Melissa will review them. Melissa will then give pitching advice on how to successfully pitch your comedy film and other advice on how to market your comedy script when completed. This week will be dedicated entirely on pitching, tips on how to get an agent, productivity steps, how to increase the value of your material, getting a director attached, filming a short, etc. She will also give case studies on how other careers got launched.

About Your Instructor

About Your Instructor, Melissa Daykin Cassill:

Melissa Daykin Cassill is Vice President of State Street Pictures (Faster, Beauty Shop, Barbershop, Notorious, Nothing Like The Holidays) . She began her career at The Firm and Creative Artists Agency where she worked in the Motion Picture Literary Department. She went on to Miramax as a Creative Executive and Gunn Films (Freaky Friday, Race To Witch Mountain) as Vice President.

FAQs

Q: What is the format of a class?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Classes are typically 2 to 4 week ongoing broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.

Q: Do I have to have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online class, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the class.

Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the class software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The class software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live class. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer 

Q: What if I cannot attend the live class?
A: If you cannot attend a live class and purchase an On-Demand class, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A.

Q: Will I have access to the class afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand class, you will have on-demand access to the audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!

Questions?

If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.
 

Reviews Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Other education that may be of interest to you:

Avoid Stock Characters: How To Create Memorable, Compelling Characters

Learn directly from Melissa Daykin Cassill, VP of Development and Production at State Street Pictures (Faster, Beauty Shop, Barbershop, Notorious, Nothing Like The Holidays)! You hear it again and again: “We’re looking for character driven drama/comedy/action/name your genre.” You may have a great plot, amazing action sequences, or the most hilarious idea for a comedy set piece but without great characters, you’ll be dead in the water. Why? Because everything should be motivated by your characters. What would The Godfather be without Michael’s change from the good man who served his country to a vengeful and tyrannical ruler? What would Star Wars be without the father son drama? Creating memorable characters is such an essential aspect of creating a compelling, sellable story, yet so many writers struggle with doing it correctly and fail to avoid the trap of stock characters that leave their scripts lifeless and weak. The Stage 32 Happy Writers is thrilled to bring you a 3-week online course Avoid Stock Characters: How To Create Memorable, Compelling Characters so you can learn how to create the memorable characters your story deserves. This class is taught by Melissa Daykin Cassill, VP of Development and Production at State Street Pictures, a production company with a first look deal at Fox 2000 Pictures. What Melissa loves most about her job is working with writers and developing exciting, compelling projects and she’s excited to be here teaching with Stage 32 to help you develop compelling characters in your story! In this class, you will learn how to set up a character arc so the character’s change is compelling, how to develop supporting characters who support the story and compliment your protagonists, how to avoid stock characters and scenes and how to adjust what you already have to make your work better. With interactive lectures and weekly homework assignments directly geared toward strengthening your characters, you will leave this class knowing exactly how to create memorable characters for your stories.

Ask Me Anything with Stage 32 CEO Richard "RB" Botto: Quarantine Edition

Since announcing our new screenings initiative, thousands of new members have joined the Stage 32 community, and there was no better time than to come together to connect, learn, and grow in our digital universe. So with that, I wanted to welcome our new members to the party by hosting one of my AMAs (Ask Me Anything): Quarantine Edition. Damn, you guys were on fire!   The entertainment industry is rapidly changing as we all navigate this evolving landscape. In the last few weeks, in addition to talking with over 800 filmmakers from canceled festivals, I've had countless conversations with executives and industry professionals how creatives can keep hustling and put themselves in position to succeed in this new and ever-changing landscape. With everything going on, I can say without hesitation that I had a LOT to share! And I know you all had questions!   In this over 2 hour AMA webcast we got together for inspiring, motivating, and brutally honest craft and industry talk. Remember, no matter what your discipline, skill level, geographical location, etc, this AMA will be helpful for ALL! You all brought your questions and the energy and I handled the rest.   Amidst this global crisis that has forced so many of us indoors, we are excited to give film, tv, and digital creatives a safe place to stay creative and build relationships with their fellow entertainment industry folks from all over the world.   Let's continue to come together for some inspiration, motivation and community love. And if you know any other creative who is not a member of Stage 32 that could use a lift, please invite them as well by sharing the on demand link to download.   I enjoyed spending quality time with you all.

How to Find, Approach & Close Investors For Your Film

One of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a creative is finding financiers and raising funds for your film. You may have a great script, a great cast and crew, but at the end of the day no money means no project. It seems like everywhere you turn these days there are thousands of films getting made, so where are all these filmmakers finding their financing? And what makes these projects so special and attractive that financiers are ready, willing and able to write a big check? The answers are simpler than you think. The key that separates a successful producer, filmmaker, director or actor or screenwriter looking to control their own content from those still struggling is the ability to raise and close the money necessary to make the project a reality. For many, the belief is that a great script is all you need to attract investors. Although story is still king, it's not the only factor that goes into a financier making separating your project from all others that are presented to him or her. To set yourself up requires work, research, and a targeted plan of attack. It requires a full understanding of the financial prospects of your project, the marketplace, and potential distribution and recoupment strategies. And most of all, and this may surprise some people, it requires you to be personable, collaborative, and to have an ability to listen and adjust where necessary. Tom Malloy has raised over $25M in funding for films. He co-owns the distribution/foreign sales company Glass House Distribution, and two production companies - Trick Candle Productions and Blood House Productions. Over the years Tom has produced almost two dozen feature films and has worked with Dakota and Elle Fanning, Elisabeth Moss, Amy Smart, Billy Zane, Eliza Dushku and many more. Throughout all these projects he's mastered the art of raising capital to greenlight a project. And, he's going to share with you how you can find money for your own project! Tom will focus in on how to identify, attract and sell investors who are a fit for your project. He'll introduce the HNI (High Net Worth Individual) and how you can find and approach them. You will learn how to tailor and perfect your financing pitch so that it's personal, professional and stands out from the pack, and learn to be prepared for any responses, feedback, or kickback you might receive. As important, you'll learn the three mistakes commonly made when approaching and pitching an investor. Tom will show you how to research investors, and give you an actual list making technique that works. Then, once you have your plan, he'll teach you how to get and win meetings. He'll teach you which markets are worth attending and how to put a plan of attack in place once you get there. Finally, Tom will teach you 5 tips on how to close your investor. This is proven advice from someone who has a track record of over a decade being successful and finding financing.    "Solid gold Tom! Thanks for all the handy tips to put into place. You made the process seem so much easier to find people to actually invest in my film!"  - Steven R.   "I have a tremendous amount of confidence in the projects I put in front of investors. What I've learned is I don't have the right strategy or message to make them understand why I have such confidence. This webinar changed all that for me. I realize now that I had much of it backwards and was missing many key components that made my pitch, and frankly, my follow up methods lacking. I'm grateful." - David W.

The Executive Hour with Special Guest Pixar Screenwriter Lorien McKenna

In this Executive Hour we speak with screenwriter Lorien McKenna! Lorien is a former Pixar Story Manager who worked on such features as Oscar-winning UP, Oscar-winning BRAVE, Oscar-winning INSIDE OUT, and THE GOOD DINOSAUR. She also served as a producer for Paramount Animation where she oversaw development for WONDER PARK. Lorien, along with Oscar-nominated writer Meg LeFauve, sold their romantic comedy anthology, THIS THING CALLED LOVE to Hulu with Dan Lin producing; as well as a half hour sitcom, POOG to NBC and WBTV. Lorien also wrote HOW TO SET A FIRE AND WHY, based on the book of the same name by Jesse Ball, for Straight Up Films. Previously, she served as the Co-EP for Hulu's CURIOUS GEORGE series, and has developed projects for Disney Jr., Funko, and Netflix. She is the co-host of the podcast The Screenwriting Life with fellow screenwriter Meg LeFauve. During the webcast, Lorien discusses her unusual career trajectory, working in the "Brain Turst" on Oscar-Winning animated films at Pixar, battling "Imposter Syndrome", tackling adaptations, writing for television vs. features, how hard it is to take notes even as an established writer, and much more!

How to Get Staffed as a Comedy TV Writer for a Streamer like Netflix, Amazon or Hulu

People are glued to streaming platforms more than ever and desperate for a show to make them laugh. Everyone who's read your script knows you're funny. Why can't that show be yours? We're giving you the expert tools to get in the room and make this the year you launch your television comedy career. Do you dream of your joke being the next viral meme? Or your show being the next awards-sweeping TED LASSO? Are you unsure how to navigate comedy audiences in a world where tastes and platforms are rapidly changing? No matter what your style or skill set, there's an audience out there for you. But you won't find them until you put yourself out there with the right tools to get staffed or sell your brilliant comedy. Every day there's a new streamer with its own brand and audience to cater to. From TED LASSO to PEN15 to SPACE FORCE, there have never been so many opportunities available. But while making someone laugh gets you a career, it takes more to get you in the door, and these digital players aren't following the rules of traditional networks. In this exclusive Stage 32 webinar, you'll learn the ins and outs of streaming writers' room styles and how to be effective within them so that your jokes get airplay. You'll understand how to write stories that will thrill a showrunner and get you staffed in a room. You'll have the chance to analyze your pilot to consider where it fits in the marketplace, how to view it as though you're the executive, and determine how to strengthen your concept so that it's ready to sell. You'll discover the differences between platforms, budgets, schedules, audiences, and development needs, and more. Most importantly, you'll learn how to get your work into the right hands and snag that comedy gig at a top streaming platform. Taking you through the state of streamer staffing season and pilot selling is literary and talent manager Spencer Robinson of Art/Work Entertainment. With over 20 years of experience, Spencer has had clients in films from directors Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh, Clint Eastwood, Gore Verbinski, and more. His clients have worked on projects from Netflix, The CW, Cinemax, CBS, NBC, FX, Starz, Nickelodeon, EPIX, and TBS, to name a few. Using his extensive experience helping writers get staffed and sell their pilots, Spencer teaches you the do's and don't of writing for streamers vs. network and how to tailor your script to make the best impression on executives at the biggest streamers in town. He lays out how streamers differ from the formatting to structure and specifically analyzes what you should consider before tackling your pilot. Spencer also dives into staffing and sales, and what approach is best for you, with the opportunity to ask Spencer any questions about yourself and your comedy career pilot during the Q & A. He'll also debunk common misconceptions about selling a comedy series in today's market and how you can use IP to sell your show. Whether you have the next great comedy series are ready to land a spot in a streaming room, this webinar ensures you walk away prepared for success.     Spencer was awesome! Super informative and detail-driven - providing great insights. Packed so much into a short amount of time which I'm super grateful for! -Eric C.  

Introducing a Major Character

A great story starts with great characters and every great character starts with a great introduction. We challenged you to create or rewrite a scene where a major character is introduced.

register for stage 32 Register / Log In