Course Title: Write television comedy

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2016

Course Code: COMM7323

Course Title: Write television comedy

School: 345T Media and Communication

Campus: City Campus

Program: C6125 - Advanced Diploma of Professional Screenwriting

Course Contact: Professional Screenwriting Administration

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 4815

Course Contact Email:

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Teacher: Vin Hedger

Nominal Hours: 140

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites

Required Prior Study

Enrolment in this elective course at RMIT requires you to have completed all first year courses.

Course Description

This course aims to develop the skills and knowledge needed to create narrative and sketch comedy for television.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

ASWCOM610A Write television comedy


1. Develop a concept for a narrative based comedy series

Performance Criteria:


1.1 A sustainable comic premise is established
1.2 Dynamic, active characters with potential for ongoing conflict are devised
1.3 Market(s) for series is identified
1.4 Genre and format are clarified
1.5 Major story arcs appropriate to the genre and format are developed
1.6 Principles of narrative humour and comic structure are applied


2. Write a bible for a comedy series

Performance Criteria:


2.1 A synopsis for the bible is developed that introduces concept, premise, genre, format and major storylines in an engaging style 
2.2 More detailed characters and character arcs are developed
2.3 Treatments that effectively summarise the story are written for several episodes


3. Write a pilot for a narrative based comedy series

Performance Criteria:


3.1 A dynamic story for the pilot episode is structured, with reference to the approved series synopsis 
3.2 Characters are introduced and character arcs are woven into the action
3.3 Conflict between characters is explored in a comedic and dramatically satisfying way
3.4 Scenes are developed in order to advance the story and reflect themes
3.5 Dialogue is written that reflects and demonstrates character
3.6 Comedic techniques are applied to resolve storylines


4. Develop a sketch comedy concept

Performance Criteria:


4.1 Market(s) and major decision makers for a sketch comedy concept are identified
4.2 A strong comic premise is created 
4.3 Characters with strong comic potential are developed
4.4 The series concept is pitched clearly in an appropriate format


5. Write an episode of a sketch comedy

Performance Criteria:


5.1 The requirements of the comedy show are established 
5.2 A sketch opening is written that establishes character and location
5.3 Script for the sketch, that shows the development of the established comic premise, is written 
5.4 Work is undertaken to agreed brief and deadlines, and punctually incorporates any agreed change

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course, you will be able to write narrative and sketch comedy for television..

Details of Learning Activities

This course provides you with the skills and knowledge needed to create sketch and narrative comedy for television.

1. In-class activities:

  • lectures
  • industry speakers
  • teacher directed group activities/projects
  • peer teaching and class presentations
  • group discussion
  • class exercises to review discussions/lectures
  • workshopping of students’ own projects
  • analysis/critique of writings

2. Out-of-class activities:

  • independent project based work
  • online and other research

Teaching Schedule






Week 1

No Class


Week 2

No Class


Week 3

Introduction to semester and establishing goals. Definitions of comedy. Sample comedy sketches.


Week 4

From Week 4 industry guests will be running workshops and sharing their tips and expertise. Some of the topics will include:

  • breakdown of successful and not so successful elements
  • recreation of the first day of a show to be aired in a week
  • techniques for creating fresh sketches on a daily basis
  • examining comic structures and techniques
  • what will the future be?
Guest workshop 1: Leisl Egan


Week 5

History of sketch comedy
Guest workshop 2: TBA


Week 6

The Australian scene. Examining comic characters
Guest workshop 3: Mark O'Toole
Finding your comedy character


Week 7

Preparation for Comedy Festival research Pitching your comedy character

NB There are no classes from Monday 28 March through to Friday 1 April inclusive

Assessment 1: Pitch a comedy character

Week 8

No class – Comedy Festival research


Week 9

No class – Comedy Festival research


Week 10

Debrief after Comedy Festival. Presentation of concepts.

Assessment 2: Present sketch comedy concept

Week 11

Guest workshop 4: TBA


Week 12

Guest workshop 5: Lawrence Mooney


Week 13

Guest workshop 6: Vin (Rastas)Hedger
Workshopping your sketches


Week 14

Guest workshop 7: TBA
Workshopping your sketches


Week 15

Class – presentation

Assessment 3: in-class presentation of sketches






Week 1

Introduction to the comic premise and comedic characters and deconstruction exercise.


Week 2


The evolution of a sit-com from pilot script to air. The dilemma versus the situation versus the story.


Week 3

It’s not just about the idea. The “funny” idea that didn’t work. Dissecting a pilot.


Week 4

Character function versus stock characters.

First Deconstruction Presentation. (ongoing through semester)


Week 5


Dialogue. Your style and tone is reflected in the dialogue – the feed/gag versus comic routines, versus the inappropriate response (and the thinking behind it), versus repetition and call backs.


Week 6


Determining the world looking at genre, style and creating a cast that will generate story. How cast departure points become B C and D plots.

Drafting your pitch.


Week 7

Pitching to class – making a room laugh. It’s important the idea makes the listener laugh without the dialogue or jokes.


Week 8


Presenting the revised pitch – locking off the concept.

1 page synopsis of pilot roughed out for next week.


Week 9


Requirements of a pilot – establishing dynamics of characters, tone, genre, strong opening, etc.

Testing pilot synopses. Identifying key scenes to be written.


Week 10

Key scene readings. Group to workshop and gag run.

Beat sheet and re-worked scenes for Week 11 and 12

 Assessment Task #1 – Premise Synopsis due


Week 11

Story and character arcs – avoiding resolutions to create an ongoing arc.

Beat sheet re-presentation. Final feedback.

NB There are no classes from Monday 19 September to Friday 30 September inclusive


Week 12

Reworked scenes presented. Finalised for submission.


Week 13


Story workshop (1) – Working from character traits. Isolating a single story and working to beat sheet.

 Assessment Task #2 – First and Key scene of pilot episode

Week 14

Story workshop (2) – Working from theme. Introducing elements to the world. Isolating a single story and working to beat sheet.


Week 15

Constructing character breakdowns from stories. Your stories come from the traits of your characters. Your characters grow as a result of your stories.

Briefing the concept bible.


Week 16

Review and submission of remaining Assessment task.

Assessment Task #3 – Concept Bible submitted


Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

Extracts, readings and additional references are provided throughout the course. In addition to hard copy handouts, some readings are made available on the class website, Blackboard, and others can be accessed via the web. Recommended books will be discussed in class.


You are advised to look at the course Blackboard site for ongoing updated information.

Other Resources

You require access to a computer and to the internet for this course.

Overview of Assessment

Assessment for this course is ongoing throughout the semester. Your knowledge and understanding of course content is assessed through participation in class exercises and through the application of learned skills and insights to your writing tasks.

Assessment Tasks


Assessment Task 1 – Pitch comedy character
A written description of a proposed comedy character, 500–1000 words.
Due: Wed 23 March

Assessment Task 2 – Proposal for comedy sketch concept
Drawing on the research you did during the comedy festival, deliver an in-class 10–15 minute presentation of a proposal for a comedy sketch series. This will be assessed by observation and recorded.
Due: Wed 20 April

Assessment Task 3 – (GRADED) In-class presentation of sketches
Prepare and deliver in-class presentation of two sketches.
Due: Wed 25 May


Assessment Task 1 – Premise synopsis  
A single page synopsis of your television comedy concept which includes information regarding the situation and the characters and demonstrates the story potential of the concept. 
Due: Wed 7 September

Assessment Task 2Two scenes  
Two key scenes (opening and one other key scene) which have been work-shopped in class. 
Due: Wed 12 October

Assessment Task #3 – (GRADED) Comedy series bible
Concept, synopsis, simple stories and characters for a comedy series presented as per teacher’s specifications.
Due Wed 2 November

Once you have demonstrated competency, your final (third) assessment in each semester will be graded (refer to Blackboard for grading rubric). These assessments will be equally weighted and contribute to your final overall mark.

Grades used in this unit are as follows:

  • HDI Competent with High Distinction 
  • CDI Competent with Distinction

  • CC Competent with Credit

  • CAG Competency Achieved - Graded 
  • NYC Not Yet Competent 
  • DNS Did Not Submit for Assessment

For further information on the assessment and grading criteria, please refer to the course blackboard site.


Assessment Matrix

The assessment matrix demonstrates alignment of assessment tasks with the relevant Unit of Competency. These are available through the course contact in Program administration

Other Information

Other Information
Please refer to the RMIT student page for extensive information about study support, assessment, extensions, appeals and a range of other matters:

Cover Sheet for Submissions
You must complete and sign a submission cover sheet for every piece of submitted work, including online submissions.;ID=x3ddsmsrwa1hz

Your learning experience will involve class-based teaching, discussion, demonstration and practical exercises. It is strongly advised that you attend all timetabled sessions. This will allow you to engage in the required learning activities, ensuring you the maximum opportunity to complete this course successfully.

Assessment Feedback 
You will receive spoken and written feedback on all your work.  Where relevant, this feedback will also include suggestions on how you can proceed to the next stage of developing your projects.;ID=qwxbqbg739rl1

Student Progress
Monitoring academic progress is an important enabling and proactive strategy designed to assist you in achieving your learning potential.

Adjustments to Assessment
If you are unable to complete any piece of assessment satisfactorily by the due date, you can choose to apply for an adjustment to your assessment. RMIT University offers a range of adjustments designed to support you in your studies, including an extension of time to complete the assessment.;ID=kehn9bz22r41

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
RMIT University has a strict policy on plagiarism and academic integrity. Please refer to the website for more information on this policy.

Credit Transfer and Recognition of Prior Learning
Credit transfer is the recognition of previously completed formal learning (an officially accredited qualification). Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is an assessment process that allows you to demonstrate competence using the skills you have gained through experience in the workplace, voluntary work, informal or formal training or other life experiences.

Recognition of Current Competency (RCC) RCC applies only if you have previously successfully demonstrated competence in a unit of competency, and now require to be reassessed to ensure that the competence is being maintained.

Please speak to your teacher if you wish to discuss applying for Credit Transfer, RPL, or RCC for the unit(s) of competency addressed in this course.;ID=az8fl470ucg41








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