Course Title: Write television comedy

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2017

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

Semester 1:

Andrea Powell

Semester 2:

Chris Anastassiades


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 changes

Learning Outcomes

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

Details of Learning Activities

In-class activities:


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

Out-of-class activities:

independent project based work 
online and other research

Teaching Schedule







Week 1

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


Week 2

Gag Definitions – identifying and writing jokes.


Week 3

No class (a replacement class will be arranged)


Week 4

Joke Writing for specific characters.


Week 5


Monologues for stand-up. 

GUEST SPEAKER – Q and A with guest comedian.


Week 6

Character Stand/up Monologue


Week 7

Develop, outline, write and present a comedy monologue for an original character or stand up.

Assessment #1 due (Present Character Monologue)

Week 8

Sketch Definitions.


Week 9

Parody – sketch and film.


Week 10

Developing a Sketch.


Develop and pitch a sketch comedy concept.

Outline comic style, gag style, characters, audience.

Assessment #2 due (Pitch Sketch Comedy Concept)


Mid-semester break: no classes from Friday 14 April to Friday 21 April inclusive.


Week 11

Character Development.

GUEST SPEAKER –character comedian.


Week 12


Character in Sketch.


Week 13

Presenting Sketch  (assessment 3).

Write and present original comedy sketches (minimum one) for a new TV show.


Assessment #3 due: Present Comedy Sketch

Week 14

Recap the semester’s work.

Look at pitching concepts to producers.

GUEST SPEAKER – pitching your ideas.




Week 15

Sketch Development


Week 16








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 & 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.



Mid-semester break: no classes from Monday 18 September to Friday 29 September inclusive


Week 12

Reworked scenes presented. Finalized 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 tasks

 Assessment Task #3 – Concept Bible submitted


Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts


Other Resources

Access to a computer is needed.

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 – Present Character Monologue
Develop, outline, write and present in class a comedy monologue for an original character or stand up. Due Week 7 (Wed 22 March)

Assessment Task 2 – Pitch a Sketch Comedy Concept
Develop and pitch a sketch comedy concept. Outline comic style, gag style, characters, audience. Week 10, (Wed 12 April)

Assessment Task 3 – Present a Comedy Sketch

You will write a comedy sketch and present it in class. Week 13 (Wed 10 May)



Assessment Task 1 – Premise Synopsis
Write 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 Week 10 (Wed 6 September)

Assessment Task 2Two Scenes 
Write two key scenes (opening and one other key scene) which have been workshopped in class. Due Week 13 (Wed 11 October)

Assessment Task #3 – (GRADED) Comedy Series Bible  
Prepare concept, synopsis, simple stories and characters for a comedy series, presented as per teacher’s specifications. Due Week 16 (Wed 1 November)

Grades used in this course are as follows:

  • CHD 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

Assessment Matrix

The assessment matrix demonstrates alignment of assessment tasks with the relevant unit of competency. The assessment matrix for this course can be found on Blackboard or from your teacher.

Other Information

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

How to submit work
Your assessment brief will specify how you should submit your work – as hard copy, digital copy or electronically through Blackboard. When you submit your work, you must include a declaration of authorship.

For submissions on Blackboard, you need to agree to an assessment declaration when you submit.

For all other submissions, you must complete and sign a submission cover sheet for every piece of submitted work.;ID=x3ddsmsrwa1hz

Your learning experience will involve class-based teaching, discussion, demonstration and practical exercises. We strongly advise 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.

We request that you speak to your teacher if regular attendance becomes difficult.

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 helps us 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
Academic integrity is about the honest presentation of work that is your own. RMIT University has a clear policy on plagiarism (see web page for more detail).

Credit Transfer and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
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) 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.

Course Overview: Access Course Overview