Course Title: Create concepts and scripts for television comedy

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2019

Course Code: COMM7359C

Course Title: Create concepts and scripts for television comedy

Important Information:

This course will be delivered through face-to-face classes, interaction with industry mentors, and the learning support material and resources in Canvas.

School: 345T Media and Communication

Campus: City Campus

Program: C6160 - Advanced Diploma of Professional Screenwriting

Course Contact: Program 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

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

Course Description

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

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

PSWTCO608 Create concepts and scripts for television comedy


1. Develop the concept for television comedy

Performance Criteria:

1.1 Establish purpose, format and market for comedy concept from a brief

1.2 Determine comic premise and character/s based on comedy format

1.3 Determine genre and story arcs appropriate to the format

1.4 Apply principles of narrative humour and/or comic structure based on the comedy format and market


2. Develop the proposal for the comedy

Performance Criteria:

2.1 Create a synopsis that succinctly introduces concept, premise, genre, conventions, format and major storylines

2.2 Develop character/s and character arcs for the comedy

2.3 Write a treatment that summarises the story and character development


3. Develop comedy script

Performance Criteria:

3.1 Develop premise and characters that uses a strong comedic structure, collaborating with other screenwriters as required  

3.2 Contribute to developing a dynamic and engaging story for the comedy

3.3 Participate in building strong character motivation and based on the format, create conflict between characters in a comically and dramatically satisfying way  

3.4 Apply own ideas, techniques and observations to the development of scenes to exploit the comic premise and advance the story

3.5 Ensure conventions of the comedy script are consistent within the prescribed format

3.6 Deliver script to the requirements of the brief

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course, you will be able to develop and write sketch, sitcom and narrative 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 11

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


Week 2

Feb 18

Gag Definitions – identifying and writing jokes.


Week 3

Feb 25

Joke Writing for specific characters.


Week 4

Mar 4

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

Follow up work on monologues in small groups.


Week 5

Mar 11

No scheduled class: Labour Day holiday


Week 6

Mar 18

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 25

Sketch Definitions.  Sample comedy sketches. 


Week 8

Apr 1

April Fool's Day special: Parody – sketch and film.


Week 9

Apr 8

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 15

Character development and character in sketch.




Mid semester break: No classes from Good Friday April 19 to Friday April 26 inclusive


Week 11

Apr 29

Class work on sketches in small groups.


Week 12

May 6

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 13

Recap the semester’s work.

Look at pitching concepts to producers.

GUEST SPEAKER – pitching your ideas. 


Week 14

May 20

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


Week 15

May 27

No scheduled class. Semester review TBC.



Semester 2





Week 1

July 8

Introduction to the comic premise in sitcom and comedic characters.


Week 2


July 15

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 22

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 29

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 5

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 12

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 19

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

Develop a Beat sheet for your sitcom episode.


Week 8


Aug 26

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

Testing your sitcom key scenes with table reads.




Mid-semester break: no classes from Monday September 2 to Friday September 6 inclusive


Week 9


Sep 9

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 16

A finer look at writing comic character. Group to workshop and gag run. Scene table reads if students ready.  Beat sheet reads. One on ones looking at sitcom assignments.


Week 11

Sep 23

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

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

More table reads.

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


Week 12

Sep 30

Series bibles re-examined.  Sitcom series bible to be submitted with your final assessment. Table reads of pilot scenes.


Week 13


Oct 7

Table reads of pilot scenes. 

Week 14

Oct 14

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.

Assessment Task #5 due: Present your original sitcom pilot and series bible

Week 15

Oct 21

No scheduled class. Semester review TBC.




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 is ongoing throughout the course. Your knowledge and understanding of course content is assessed through participation in class exercises, pitching sessions,  and through the application of learned skills and insights to your comedy writing tasks.

Assessment Tasks

To demonstrate competency in this course you will need to complete the following pieces of assessment to a satisfactory standard. You will receive feedback from the teacher at the conclusion of each assessment task. You should refer to the assessment brief which is available on Canvas for full assessment criteria.

If you have not completed an assessment task to a satisfactory standard you will be given an opportunity to resubmit that task within one week of receiving feedback. You will have one opportunity to resubmit your work.


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 18)

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 8)

Assessment Task 3 – Present two Comedy Sketches

You will write two comedy sketches and present in class. Due Week 12 (May 6)


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 5)

Assessment Task 5 – Entire Sitcom Episode and Series Bible
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 14) 

Once you have achieved competency for the unit, you will receive an overall grade for the course (refer to Canvas for the graded rubric with specified criteria). This rubric will relate to all assessments and your overall performance in the course.

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