How to Write a Fresh, Stand Out Comedy

It's Introduce Yourself Weekend at Stage 32! Head over to the Introduce Yourself section of the Stage 32 Lounge and let everyone know who you are, what you're working on, your dreams and aspirations. And be sure to peruse other member's threads. You never know when you're going to make a connection that changes your life!

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
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have different senses of humor, jokes that don't translate internationally, and storylines that can easily get deemed outdated a year later?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.

How To Write A Comedy Pilot Executives Will Want To Read

In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, your host Michael Poisson will teach you how to write a kick-ass comedy pilot that will get executives’ attention. This webinar is not only about how to properly execute writing a comedy pilot, but also about how to make it your strongest sample so that it can get noticed! You will leave the webinar knowing: The 3 most important things Producers/Execs look for in a pilot as they relate to concept, structure and voice. How to properly highlight your unique comedic voice and stuff your script with laughs. How to create a crisp 1-2 sentence pitch that will get executives excited about your idea. How to navigate the competitions and fellowships. How to think from a Producer/Manager/Executives POV and understand what they're looking for so you can apply it to your script. Michael Poisson is a former Director of Development who's worked for Ryan Reynolds TV production company DarkFire TV, Krysten Ritter's company Silent Machine and CAA and is now a writer on Netflix's Raising Dion. This background gives has given Michael a unique perspective for what kind of script stands out among the hordes on everyone’s “Weekend Read” lists and he is here exclusively with Stage 32 to share that knowledge with you.

Writing Horror to Scare Up the Big Bucks

Learn directly from Scott Stoops, a manager at Benderspink who recently sold a pilot to CBS. Benderspink sold more spec scripts last year than any other management company and are best known for producing The Hangover franchise, The Ring franchise, We’re The Millers, Horrible Bosses 2, among many others! With the recent success of films such as It Follows, Insidious Chapter 3, Poltergeist and The Visit, it is evident that horror is becoming one of the most profitable and exciting genres in the industry. This is because horror films can be made on the cheap and still yield spectacular returns at the box office. Horror doesn’t rely on big IP, superheroes, or movie stars – all horror needs to deliver is a compelling story, told well, packed with plenty of chills and thrills. However, delivering on this is far easier said than done, and many writers miss important story elements that keep their horror scripts dead in the water. In this exclusive Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Scott Stoops, a manager at Benderspink who is passionate about genre films, will teach you what makes a horror film successful, from developing a marketable and commercial plot, to unique and scary set pieces, to properly structuring and formatting your script to tell the best story possible. You will learn high-level story concepts, tips and tricks to help make your horror script scary and effective, and get an insider perspective on what concepts and types of horror films are currently selling in the marketplace. You will leave this webinar with an understanding of not only how to make your existing scripts stronger, but how to develop and come up with the next big horror hit film!

How to Make Your TV Script's First Ten Pages Count To an Executive

We've brought in veteran development executive Marla White to give you an ultimate guide on dissecting the first 10 pages of a TV script from her perspective as an executive. In addition, by looking at specific examples from great scripts like “Justified,” “Weeds,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Modern Family” and more, she's going to break it down for you why and how those pilots succeed where others failed and how to apply that to your script. Marla has worked with writers who have sold pitches to Fox, TNT, CBS, NBC and ABC and have been staffed on premium cable dramas.

They Said "No" - Why Did They Pass On My Material?

Stage 32 Next Level Webinars is extremely excited to bring you They Said “No” – Why Did They Pass? hosted by Dan Wiedenhaupt, former Creative Executive at Atlas Entertainment (Wonder Woman, Justice League, Suicide Squad, American Hustle, The Dark Knight Trilogy). Many filmmakers and writers look forward to that exciting moment when they get their work in front of executives. Once in front of an executive, it's exhilarating waiting for the decision makers to view a reel, hear a pitch, or read a script. Then, when the call comes and the decision has been made, sometimes it's a "pass" or "no" and the only question left on a filmmaker or writer's mind is "Why?" Why did they pass on my material? Says Dan, "After reading thousands of scripts and hearing hundreds of pitches, I found that there are many common problems and red flags in scripts and presentations that nearly everyone makes - problems which will immediately make me, or another executive, pass on the script or idea. This is something that affects every single director or writer at any stage of the process - whether you're a first-time filmmaker or a Hollywood veteran. I have spent several years working in all aspects of film, television, and commercials - from both a physical production and development angle. I've seen the best of the best and I've seen some of the worst. After this time of cultivating my taste and my thick skin, I'm ready to pay the wisdom forward. I will be brutal, direct and to the point, and hopefully a little funny, pulling back the curtain of the development process." We are thrilled to bring you an executive of this caliber to be able to teach you directly about what you can do to help that crucial moment once you get in front of an executive. In this webinar, Dan will bring you a fun and informed approach to what it's like from the executive side of the table.

1/2/19 No Dead Ringers

When your characters each have their own voice, you should be able to tell them apart by their dialogue alone. We challenged you to write a scene removing all character names and descriptions so that each character is distinguishable by their dialogue alone.

register for stage 32 Register / Log In