MEET YOUR NEW INSTRUCTOR
I’ve been writing funny articles since Gerald Ford was president. And I want to teach you how to do it. In case he somehow comes back and gets re-elected.
ELLIS WEINER. AUTHOR, WRITER, HUMORIST
My method is, I sit there and think of things. And then I think of other things that might prove to be amusing, when I write about them with regard to the first things I was thinking of. I know—it sounds complicated. But it really isn’t, once you know how.
Then I type these things—what I call “ideas”—onto a computer in a word processing program. And I can actually tell you how to do this–how to take notes, how to save your notes—how to save your writing—in the word processing program—and, more importantly, why. But I won’t just tell you how.
WATCH AS ELLIS ACTUALLY WRITES SOMETHING AND LAUGHS AT IT
It’s one thing to describe writing something and laughing at it. I believe it’s much more helpful to show that process,
FORTY-FIVE YEARS OF PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE, AT YOUR FINGERTIPS
What’s interesting is, I think…and you’d be surprised at how many people agree with me…that it’s fun to laugh. And in my experience, people like to have fun. The thing is, what I’ve discovered is, it’s gratifying to enable people to experience fun by eliciting the laughter of the enjoyment of people finding things amusing, which is a very human thing to do.
YOU’LL WATCH AS AN ACTUAL ARTICLE TAKES SHAPE
People ask me, “How do I know something is funny?” And I want to say, “How do you not know something is funny?” Of course, if you were in the room with me when I wrote it, you’d know that I thought it was funny, because you’d see and hear me laughing at it. The “trick”—and that’s all it is, really—is to laugh at something when it’s funny. I firmly believe anyone can learn that.
HE’LL GUIDE YOU EVERY STEP OF THE WAY
Sometimes an idea seems good, but as I work on it, I realize that it’s really not so good. It doesn’t have what I call “goodness.”
FROM CONCEPTION TO ITERATION TO REVISION TO COMPLETION
One thing I’m very big on is re-writing. If I can make something better—something funnier—then I’ll do it. Even if it takes an extra half hour, I don’t care. It’s worth it. I’m also a major fan of spelling. But of course, nowadays the computer takes care of that—which is great, because it frees me up to have more ideas.
HE’LL SHARE TRICKS OF THE TRADE AS WELL AS THE FUNDAMENTALS
One great thing about the word processing program is, you can edit a draft and not have to re-type the whole thing! You can make big changes or little changes, and keep the rest of the original. Sounds amazing, yeah, but I’ll show you how.
HE’LL SHARE STORIES ABOUT THE PROFESSION…
Once…I don’t know, sometime in the 90’s…I wrote what I thought was a really great piece. And I sent it in to the New Yorker—and they rejected it. And then the very next week, they ran a piece by Woody Allen, and it was terrible! But what can you do, right?
…OFFER SOME PERSONAL INSIGHTS…
People sometimes say to me, “Why can’t you be serious?” Although actually no one has ever said that to me, now that I think of it. But what if they did? I’d probably answer, “Believe me, humor is a very serious matter. Sometimes we laugh in order to keep from crying. Or we make fun of someone in order not to kill them and go to prison. Besides, what business is it of yours whether I’m serious or not? Nobody asked Solzhenitsyn that, did they? Although maybe they did and I just never heard about it. But you’ll notice nobody asks Elie Wiesel why he can’t be funny. Or can he? I don’t know him personally, so maybe he’s a riot. You’ll notice, by the way, that our names are almost identical.” Hey, maybe there’s an article in that.
…AND SHARE SOME SPECIAL OBSERVATIONS ABOUT HUMOR ITSELF
Humor throws light on the human condition, and that’s a very valuable thing. Why? Because it’s almost impossible to tell what condition a human is in if they’re sitting around in the dark. You can ask them, I suppose. But what if they’re unconscious? Or dead? Talk about being in a bad condition! You’d want to know that, and they’d be unable to tell you. So that’s why humor is funny.
LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS
I’m Ellis Weiner, and this…is my Master Class.
ELLIS WEINER MASTER CLASS FAQ
Q: A “class” implies an interaction with a teacher. Will I be able to interact with Ellis?
Q: I mean, like, via Zoom or FaceTime or Skype? Something like that? Or even email?
Q: But what if I have questions?
Q: Will Ellis read my material and give me notes specific to my personal strengths and weaknesses?
Q: Unless it’s like college, and there are teaching assistants who work with the big-name professor? Is that how it works?
Q: So these are just glorified You Tube videos, right? With a “workbook”?
Q: Does…oh, fuck it. Never mind.