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This course explores the practices, principles and aesthetics of comedic performance. Questions examined include: What makes something funny? Why do audiences laugh? What is the relationship between performer and audience in comedy? How does a performer get the laugh without ‘asking’ for it? How is humor specific to certain cultures, historical periods, genders or age groups? Are any elements of humor universal? Does the nature of performing comedy change from medium to medium? The course investigates these questions through readings, lectures, discussion and experiential exercises. Students are challenged to synthesize theory, historical traditions, and practical application into viable comedic performances. Students will experiment with this synthesis through discussing, analyzing, rehearsing and performing scenes/monologues drawn from major comic traditions including: masked forms (such as Greek Old Comedy and Commedia dell’Arte), high comedy (like the comedies of Shakespeare and Moliere), low comedy (such as the slapstick of Charlie Chaplin, Mel Brooks, as well as modern sketch, improv and stand-up comedy) and that which defies easy categorization (such as Monty Python or Sacha Baron Cohen). The course will culminate in a public presentation, allowing students to share select comedic performances with an audience. Students are expected to rehearse outside of class time.