Course Title: Write television comedy

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2018

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: Andrea Powell 

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


Semester 1





Week 1

Feb 7

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


Week 2

Feb 14

Gag Definitions – identifying and writing jokes.


Week 3

Feb 21

Joke Writing for specific characters.


Week 4

Feb 28

 Monologues for stand-up, colder openers and specific character.


Week 5

Mar 7

Follow up work on monologues in small groups.


Week 6

Mar 14

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

Assessment Task #1 due (Present Character Monologue)

Week 7

Mar 21

Sketch Definitions.  Sample comedy sketches. 


Week 8

Mar 28

Parody – sketch and film.




Mid semester break: No classes from March 30 to April 6 inclusive


Week 9

Apr 11

Developing a Sketch.

Develop and pitch a sketch comedy concept.

Outline genre, gag style, characters, audience.

Assessment Task #2 due: Pitch Sketch Comedy Concept

Week 10

Apr 18

Character development and character in sketch.


Week 11

Apr 25

Class work on sketches in small groups.


Week 12

May 2

Presenting Sketches  (assessment 3).

Write and present two original comedy sketches for a new TV show.

Assessment Task #3 due: Present Comedy Sketches (graded assessment)

Week 13

May 9

Recap the semester’s work.

Look at pitching concepts to producers.

GUEST SPEAKER – pitching your ideas.


Week 14

May 16

Revise Semester 1. Discuss sitcom and project ideas for 2nd Semester


Week 15

May 23

NO CLASS. Assessment. 







Semester 2






Week 1

July 4

 Introduction to the comic premise in sitcom and comedic characters.


Week 2


July 11

The evolution of a sitcom from pilot script to air. The dilemma versus the situation versus the story.

Prepare your original sitcom idea pitch for next week.


Week 3

July 18

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

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


Week 4

July 25

Character function versus stock characters.

Invent a sitcom episode synopsis for an existing sitcom.

 Small group work on individual sitcom projects. Continues throughout semester. 

Finalise your sitcom synopsis for assessment.


Week 5


Aug 1

Dialogue - Your style and tone is reflected in the dialogue – the feed/gag, comic routines, the inappropriate response, repetition and call backs. 

Class exercises on dialogue.

Finalised sitcom synopses presented in class. Assessment 4.

Assessment Task #4 due: Premise Synopsis

Week 6


Aug 8

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

Begin work in small groups on writing your original sitcom episode.  


Week 7

Aug 15

Continue small group work.  Individual time with teacher on your sitcom.

Develop a Beat sheet for your sitcom episode.


Week 8


Aug 22

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

Testing your sitcom key scenes with table reads.


Week 9


Aug 29

Continue small group work.  Individual time with teacher on your sitcom.

Work on Beat sheet for your sitcom episode.

Class scene readings & plot/gag/character solving.


Week 10

Sep 5

Further scene readings. Group to workshop and gag run.


Week 11

Sep 12

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

Working from character traits. Isolating a single story and working to beat sheet.

Beat sheet re-presentation and more scene work in small groups.  Individual time with your teacher on your sitcom.




Mid-semester break: no classes from Monday September 17 to Friday September 28 inclusive


Week 12

Oct 3

Series bibles examined.  Preparation on sitcom series bible to be submitted with your final assessment. 


Week 13


Oct 10

Original sitcom presentations in class.

Assessment Task #5 due: Present your original sitcom and series bible (graded assessment)

Week 14

Oct 17

Continue with original sitcom presentations in class.

Revise semester’s work.  Discuss which sketches and/or sitcom scenes will be incorporated into the live student showcase.

Final words of wisdom.


Week 15

Oct 24

NO CLASS.  Assessment. 




Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts


Other Resources

You require access to a computer and to the internet for this course. RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems and access to specialised facilities and relevant software. You will also have access to the library resources.

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

To demonstrate competency you will need to complete all of the following pieces of assessments to a satisfactory standard. You will receive feedback on all assessment (refer to Canvas for assessment criteria), and once you have achieved competency you will be graded on assessment tasks 3 and 5.


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 6 (Mar 14)

Assessment Task 2 – Pitch a Sketch Comedy Concept
Develop and pitch a sketch comedy concept. Outline comic style, gag style, characters, audience. Due Week 9 (Apr 11)

Assessment Task 3 – Present two Comedy Sketches (GRADED ASSESSMENT)

You will write two comedy sketches and present in class. Due Week 12 (May 2)


Assessment Task 4 – 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 5 (Aug 1)

Assessment Task 5 – Entire Sitcom Episode and Series Bible(GRADED ASSESSMENT)
Write a sitcom episode based on your synopsis which has been workshopped in class. Prepare concept, synopsis, simple stories and characters for a comedy series, presented as per teacher’s specifications. Due Week 13 (Oct 10) 

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.

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.

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

Adjustments to Assessment (eg. applying for an extension of time):
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.

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.

Course Overview: Access Course Overview