Comedy Screenplay Intensive Workshop with Steve Kaplan


Comedy Screenplay Intensive Masterclass with Steve Kaplan

(8 customer reviews)


Date: tbc
Duration: One weekend
Location: Raindance Film Training Centre, 10a Craven Street, London WC2N 5PE
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Whether you’re writing a comedy screenplay, working on a sitcom script, or producing or directing a comedy film or television series, Steve Kaplan’s Comedy Screenplay Intensive is a must for any serious professional. Find out why the top writers, producers and directors from companies such as ABC, Disney, BBC, Dreamworks, Aardman Animation, NBC, Touchstone Television and others regularly attend his famed class.

Raindance is proud to present Steve Kaplan in London


Comedy Sceenplay Course Overview

The Comedy Screenplay Intensive is a two-day course that explores the hidden tools and principles of comedy.

Screenwriters need to understand what comedy is, how it works, why it works, what’s happening when it’s not working. This weekend masterclass explains what you can do to create smiles and chuckles in your scenes and movies. Tutor Steve Kaplan is recognised as one of Hollywood’s comedy experts. He has developed a proven system and offers practical methods and techniques.

On Day 1, you will explore with Kaplan the Hidden Tools of Comedy – useable, practical tools that you can apply immediately to your work.

Day 2 focuses on character, structure, comic premise and specific ways of applying the tools to text.

The workshop includes interactive exercises, solo and group writing activities, as well as a liberal use of clips from current and classic comedies to illustrate key points and principles. By the end of this weekend you will thoroughly understand how comedy works and have a solid toolkit enabling you to write comedy screenplays professionally.


Comedy Screenplay Course Outline:


I. Premise: The Art and Science of Comedy Screenplay

  • Introduction and Overview
  • Dying is Easy, Comedy is Hard
  • Comedy Perception Test – Are you seeing 20/20?
  • Funny vs. Comic – The difference
  • The Comedy Equation

II. Set-up: The Hidden Tools of Comedy

  • Winning
  • Non-Hero
  • Metaphorical Relationships
  • Positive (and Negative) Actions
  • Active Emotion
  • Straight Line/Wavy Line
  • Four Elements of Jokes
  • The Tools Applied
  • Learn how to use these essential tools in your work

III. Development: Comedy Practicum

  • Entire History of Comedy…in 15 minutes.
  • Comedy Archetypes
  • Comic Premise—The Lie That Tells the Truth
  • Developing the Comic Premise
  • The Comedy Paradigm

IV. Payoff: Comedy Screenplay Structure and Development

  • The Comic Hero’s Journey
  • Art of Romantic Comedy
  • Sitcoms & Pilots
  • Final Q&A

Here’s What They’re Saying About Steve Kaplan

I loved it. It was informative as much as entertaining. Mr. Steve, you are fuuuunnnyy.”
Michael M., Toronto

Everything you need to be a comedy writer except the searing self-doubt, crippling anxiety, and suffocating social awkwardness.”
Chad Gervich, Writer/Producer (Dog With a Blog; Author: Small Screen, Big Picture)

“I rarely think about why something I’m working on is funny. I’m usually just fixated on the fact that it’s not funny enough. So it was interesting to look at it from such a thoughtful perspective. I started reading the book expecting to be merely amused, but what I found was a rigorous deconstruction of what makes comedy. Steve takes this ephemeral topic and reduces it to tangible terms that are both practical and illuminating. Oh, and it’s funny. Which is useful when you’re talking about comedy.”
David Crane, Creator & Executive Producer (Friends, Episodes)

“Steve Kaplan was a very important influence on me as a young performer and writer. Many of his techniques for analyzing a comedy scene I still use to this day. Although, I make sure I never give him credit.”
Steve Skrovan, Writer/Producer (Everybody Loves Raymond)

About Steve Kaplan

For years, Steve Kaplan has been the industry’s most respected and sought-after expert on comedy. The artists he’s taught, directed or produced have gone on to be nominated for Emmy Awards, Academy Awards, Golden Globes Awards, Writers’ Guild of America Awards and others. (They’ve WON 10 Emmys, 1 Oscar, 2 WGA Awards and the American Comedy Award.)

He is the author of the best-selling The Hidden Tools of Comedy: The Serous Business of Being Funny. In addition to having taught at UCLA, NYU, Yale and other universities, Steve Kaplan created the HBO Workspace, the HBO New Writers Program and was co-founder and Artistic Director of Manhattan Punch Line Theatre. He has done workshops and consulted for companies such as DreamWorks, Disney, Aardman Animation, HBO and others.

In New York, Steve was co-founder and Artistic Director of Manhattan Punch Line Theatre, where he developed writers such as Peter Tolan (Analyze This, Finding Amanda), writer and producer David Crane (Friends, Joey, The Class), writer/producer Tracy Poust (Ugly Betty, Will & Grace), Michael Patrick King (The Comeback, Sex and The City, Will & Grace), David Ives (All In The Timing), Howard Korder (Boardwalk Empire), and Kenneth Lonergan (Mancherster by the Sea) and introduced such performers as Lewis Black, Bob OdenkirkNathan Lane, John Leguizamo, Mercedes Ruehl and Oliver Platt.

In Los Angeles, he created the HBO New Writers Project, discovering HBO Pictures screenwriter Will Scheffer (Big Love) and the HBO Workspace, a developmental workshop in Hollywood that introduced and presented performers such as Jack Black and Tenacious D, Kathy Griffin, Nia Vardalos (My Big, Fat Greek Wedding) and Paul F. Tompkins. At the Workspace, he was Executive Producer for the award-winning HBO Original Programming documentary DROP DEAD GORGEOUS. Steve has directed in regional theaters and Off-Broadway, including Sandra Tsing Loh’s ALIENS IN AMERICA at Second Stage.

In addition to private coaching and one-on-one consultations, Steve has taught his Comedy Intensive workshops to thousands of students around the world, including Los Angeles, New York, London, and Singapore. Later this year and next, he will be presenting seminars and workshops in Sweden, Athens, Los Angeles, and New York. He is currently working on his next book, The Comic Hero’s Journey: Serious Story Structure for Fabulously Funny Films, to be published later this year by Michael Wiese Productions. Raindance is honoured to be the first to review this new book.

Find out Steve Kaplan’s Top 10 Comedy Films and Favourite British Comedies.

Ask a question about Comedy Screenplay Intensive



8 reviews for


Comedy Screenplay Intensive Masterclass with Steve Kaplan

  1. Jessica

    What a fantastic workshop with an industry pro. Highly recommend for any comedy screenwriter.

  2. ellenpruyne (verified owner)

    Steve offers the wisdom of his experience and presents a unique framework for writing comedy that you can’t find anywhere else. The film clips and examples bring it to life in a way that reading his book cannot. For me the best part was his comedy version of the hero’s journey — an excellent approach for thinking through the structure of your story. I also found Steve very funny and personable. I enjoyed the workshop a great deal.

  3. Merewyn (verified owner)

    This course is outstanding. Everything he said just clicked. Such an invested teacher. So sharp on the abstract constructs and aspects of humour works. I cannot recommend this course highly enough. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I’m picky.

  4. sunchi.mathur (verified owner)

    I went into this class without much more than an interest in writing comedy. Or perhaps an interest in the idea of writing comedy. I came away with a wealth of knowledge and understanding of how to actually do it. All of Steve’s advice, tools and insight are applicable immediately and have a way of energising you to get writing. He runs an incredible class with a wonderful atmosphere. I would recommend this class whether you have a project in mind or not — the learnings are essential.

  5. Debs Taz

    Two days of invaluable information, tools, discussions and interactive exercises all made this an excellent course I have no doubt will help with my writing!
    It actually lost me an acting job… but in a good way… I was offered a part in an online series but after watching the pilot, I didn’t find it at all funny and hated the character… I couldn’t find a single thing about her I could relate to… so I turned it down… gulp!
    I’m sure I’ll be thanking Steve for that at some point ha ha! 🙂

  6. Simon Craven (verified owner)

    My big question going into this was “what are the practical craft skills I can use every day to bring comedy into my writing?” Steve answered that question in abundance. Two days full ofdeeply practical work based on evidence from some of the best comic TV and film out there, alongside thoughtful analysis of why some other scripts just don’t work so well. Highly recommended for writers in all genres who want to engage audiences and readers through character-based comedy.

  7. Barbara Vonau

    excellent weekend! Really enjoyed it, and it was very entertaining as well. I would have benefitted from more examples from UK comedy shows and movies as illustrations for the teaching points, and making TV comedy series and movies a separate entity, for ease of digesting the two separate approaches. Otherwise brilliant!

  8. Mark Horton

    Fantastic weekend. Steve knows his stuff. His analysis of what makes things funny is invaluable. If you ever get the opportunity to go to one of his workshops… GO!

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