Writing Funny with Stan Sinberg

Stan had a deep, credible background in humor writing and so had a lot to impart. I learned a tremendous amount about the structure and tools for developing humorous pieces.  I found his formal understanding of what works and doesn’t work with humor writing, how to approach pieces, the most helpful.  I enjoyed the examples that he offered to explain his theories and points. There were so many moments in the class that made me laugh, it made  it fun.

David Nelson-Gal

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Writing Funny For Blogs, YouTube or…What’s That Other Thing? – PRINT! (And Getting Paid For It, Too!)

Five Saturdays, June 1st-29th, 2-4:30 pm
$215 members/$245 others      Berkeley

Has anyone ever told you that you’re funny and that “You should write that stuff down?” No? Then maybe you shouldn’t take this class.  But if the answer is “Yes,” or you’re convinced you’re surrounded by humorless numbskulls who wouldn’t recognize a punch line if it hit them in the ‘nads, then come on down!

In this class you’ll learn how to come up with funny premises “on demand,” where to get humorous ideas (I have the secret email address), how to inject humor in “serious” pieces, a half-dozen formulas for writing jokes, and how to apply these tools whether you’re writing for a magazine, blog, or making a YouTube video.

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Humor Writing: Transforming Life’s Disasters into Laughter, Part II

6 Fridays, once a month, 7-9:30 p.m.
$335 members/$365 others (plus $5 for Pamela’s hefty handout, payable at first class)     San Francisco 
(this class is not currently scheduled)

Pamela Bass is a teacher who challenges her students to combine depth with irony, meaning with wit. As Anne Lammott suggests, “Risk placing real emotion at the center of your work…Tell the truth as you understand it…it is a revolutionary act.”

For students who have already taken Pamela’s  “Humor Writing: Transforming Life’s Disasters into Laughter” (or the equivalent) this class will build on your knowledge of how to write the humor essay. For fiction or memoir writers who don’t usually write essays but want to spice up their prose with humor, this class will give you much needed tools. Above all, it will help you set deadlines and meet goals.

Maybe you want to finish some incomplete writing exercises from a past class. Maybe you want to put together an essay collection or infuse a memoir chapter with hilarity. Maybe you need motivation to build a regular writing practice that doesn’t end when your class ends.

“For the artistically unemployed and for writers who need a kick in the you-know-what, to continue their humor writing (or to get that witty memoir written) this class will offer not just concrete deadlines but the tools to enrich your writing, and a community to support you in achieving your goals.”

You will be exposed to new humor essayists from whom you will draw inspiration and learn new techniques. Readings will include: Mark Twain, Margaret Cho and David Sedaris among others. You will read 1-2 essays each month as well as the work of your peers. At each monthly gathering student writing will be workshopped and discussed in a supportive and constructive environment. You’ll do some in-class exercises, and a great deal more at home. Each student will complete at least one essay and one revision. Each student will set their own goals and the class will support you in meeting them. Some students might work on refining one essay, while others may work on building a portfolio of rough drafts.

In between classes you will have email dates with writing partners and regular check-ins with Pamela. You will receive written feedback from Pamela and your peers. Class lectures and discussions will introduce or deepen your understanding of craft concepts.

“Not only will we review the use of exaggeration and metaphor along with other humor tools, we’ll examine what it takes to craft an impactful piece from start to finish! As always, we’ll conclude with a public reading of your witty tales, for a supportive audience of invited friends at a local café or bookstore.”

*If you have not taken Pamela’s Humor Writing I class but want to explore your funny side, please email before registering for the class.  She’ll help you decide if this class is appropriate for you.

Pamela Alma Bass, who earned her MFA in creative writing at USF, has maintained her sanity by transforming her life’s disasters into comedy. Her humorous essay, hailed by the SF Chronicle as “hilariously clear-eyed,” can be found in the anthology I Should Have Gone Home. Excerpts from her novel-in-progress can be found in the anthologies Best Women’s Travel Writing 2009 and Hot Flashes: sexy little stories & poems I & II. Her writing has won awards from Glimmer Train and Traveler’s Tales. She blogs for The Huffington Post about the absurdity of parenting twins.

Humor Writing – Transforming life’s disasters into laughter

pamelabass21 Nine Weeks, 7-9:30 p.m. San Francisco
$335 members/$365 others (this class is not currently scheduled)

Have you ever noticed that your most neurotic traits make for funny stories? Have you found yourself laughing over past personal disasters? In this class you’ll explore ways to craft these tales into prose. “Director Mike Nichols once said, ‘The great thing about being an artist is that for most people a shitty day is just a shitty day, but for us it’s all material,'” notes instructor Pamela Bass. Class members will explore the writings of funny writers such as Anne Lamott, David Sedaris and Jazmin Darznik. You’ll also do in-class and take-home writing exercises, to be shared and discussed in a supportive way.

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Humor Writing: “Pamela is a gem!”

It was packed with information, inspiration and encouragement. Pamela is a wonderful teacher. She nurtured everyone in the humor writing class!


“Pamela is a gem. I’d follow her anywhere.”–Diana Lyster


“I was so high after this class that I went home and wrote until 4 AM! Still exhausted but so worth it.”- Liz K


Re: the humor writing class: “Excellent teacher… Exceeded my expectations — the process was just amazing… I loved the critiques — Beth P.

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