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Course Planning by Program


Essential Objectives

Course Syllabus

Revision Date: 03-Jul-24

Fall 2024 | HUM-1240-VO01 - World of Comedy & Humor

Online Class

Online courses take place 100% online via Canvas, without required in-person or Zoom meetings.

Location: Online
Credits: 3 (45 hours)
Day/Times: Meets online
Semester Dates: 09-03-2024 to 12-16-2024
Last day to drop without a grade: 09-16-2024 - Refund Policy
Last day to withdraw (W grade): 11-04-2024 - Refund Policy
Open Seats: 13 (as of 07-21-24 2:05 PM)
To check live space availability, Search for Courses.


Avery Stern
View Faculty Credentials
View Faculty Statement
Hiring Coordinator for this course: Jennifer Gundy

General Education Requirements

This section meets the following CCV General Education Requirement(s) for the current catalog year:
VSCS Humanistic Perspectives
  1. Many degree programs have specific general education recommendations. In order to avoid taking unnecessary classes, please consult with additional resources like your program evaluation, your academic program catalog year page, and your academic advisor.
  2. Courses may only be used to meet one General Education Requirement.

Course Description

This interdisciplinary course explores the nature and role of humor across cultures and many of the forms it has taken throughout history. Examples of comic styles and devices will be critically analyzed in a range of social and performative contexts. Theories of humor will be examined to illuminate how, through generating laughter and expressing emotions and ideas that are often socially suppressed, humor can be effective in entertaining, persuading, communicating social commentary, and even in healing.

Essential Objectives

1. Discuss how humor developed as a mode of communication in antiquity, who has been allowed to use humor and in what settings, and how historic characters like jesters, wits and bards combined humor with critical commentary to persuade, instruct, and address social and political issues.
2. Analyze examples of how and what humor and comedy communicate in a range of social and performative settings, such as comics, cartoons, art, literature, film, theatre, radio, television, and a range of everyday events and conversations.
3. Discuss how the principles of effective and appropriate humor vary between cultural groups and identify common roles for humorists and the types of comic messages that appear to be universally funny.
4. Identify cross-cultural examples of comic styles and devices, such as satire, irony, sarcasm, parody, slapstick, caricature, puns, jokes, and comedic timing, and demonstrate how these can be manipulated to construct effective humorous messages for particular audiences.
5. Examine major theories of humor and hilarity, why we need this, and why individuals react to it differently, as developed by philosophers, artists, psychologists, anthropologists, and biologists.
6. Explore the creative foundations of humor and how it can be both spontaneous and deliberately used to communicate and mediate social tensions around gender, religion, social status, politics, and insecurity.
7. Discuss the status of comedy among the modes of communication, the exploitation of language in joke telling, and the risks, constraints, and ethical dimensions involved with humor.
8. Consider how laughter, the development of a humorous worldview, and a greater appreciation for the comic aspects of our human condition has developed as a movement designed to help individuals with physical and psychological healing and alleviate some of the current problems that confront humanity.

Required Technology

More information on general computer and internet recommendations is available on the CCV IT Support page. https://support.ccv.edu/general/computer-recommendations/

Please see CCV's Digital Equity Statement (pg. 45) to learn more about CCV's commitment to supporting all students access the technology they need to successfully finish their courses.

Required Textbooks and Resources

*** This is a low cost ($50 or less) textbook or resource class. ***

HUM-1240-VO01 Link to Textbooks/Resources Information for this course in eCampus.

The last day to use a Financial Aid Advance to purchase textbooks/books is the 3rd Tuesday of the semester. See your financial aid counselor at your academic center if you have any questions.

Artificial Intelligence(AI) Policy Statement

CCV recognizes that artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI tools are widely available and becoming embedded in many online writing and creative applications.

Allowed: This course's generative AI policy acknowledges technology, including generative AI, plays a supportive role in learning and feedback. During our class, we may use AI writing tools such as ChatGPT in certain specific cases. You will be informed as to when, where, and how these tools are permitted to be used, along with guidance for attribution. Any use outside of these specific cases constitutes a violation of CCV's Academic Integrity Policy.

We will use AI in this course EXCLUSLIVELY as directed. Unless an assignment specifies that ChatGPT is relevant for the task, AI will not be allowed.

For example, none of your discussion posts or essays may use AI tools beyond grammar and spelling, but we will do a series of activities during the latter half of the semester in which we analyze AI generated jokes and comedic writing.

As someone who uses AI in a work-capacity, I am quick to spot its use in academic writing. Use only as instructed.


Online courses pose a unique opportunity for students to navigate their learning at their own pace and accomdate the various individual needs of each class member. That said, the inherent root of this course, laughter, is best shared amongst others. As a result, this asynchronous course will ask you to connect with those around you, including your classmates, to discover humor in your own lives, the lives of those from different generations, and the lives of those who share drastically dissimilar personal identities.

We will take an inquiry and project-based approach that focuses far more on critical thinking than rote memorization. While we study theory behind comedy and humor, we will have ample opportunity for the class to generate their own theories, question pre-existing philosophies, and even predict what the future of laughter holds. This course is about engaging with the material in a personal and meaningful way. Think less "mandatory response to classmate's post" and more "epiphanic reflection on parody and satire." The work we do should trancend the 15 weeks we have together and (hopefully) shape your lifelong relationship to humor.

Throughout the course you will be asked to consume (and share) a fair amount of media, but like any good connoseur of comedy, you'll also be asked to produce original content. You don't have to be a trained cartoonist or writer to excel in this course, but a willingness to take humorous risks and apply age-old theatrical techinques will get you where you need to go.

In addition to short weekly essays, discussion forums, presentations, and a final creative project, you will also be tasked with sharing anecdotes and generating posts based on your own comedic discoveries.

Lastly, we will also take time to explore various philosophies around dark humor, laughter in times of strife, and political comedy. What this requires is a willingness to bring vulnerability and an open-mind to these more sensitive topics, recognizing that there are curitive properities in finding lightness during heavy times.

This course is for those eager to explore both the puny and profound. May you arrive curious and open to delight.

Grading Criteria

CCV Letter Grades as outlined in the Evaluation System Policy are assigned according to the following chart:

A Less than 9893
A-Less than 9390
B+Less than 9088
B Less than 8883
B-Less than 8380
C+Less than 8078
C Less than 7873
C-Less than 7370
D+Less than 7068
D Less than 6863
D-Less than 6360
FLess than 60 
NPLess than 600

Weekly Schedule

Week/ModuleTopic  Readings  Assignments


The Science of Laughter


The Scientific American: What's So Funny? The Science of Why We Laugh

Sophie Scott: Why We Laugh (TEDtalk


Personal Anecdotes - Short Paragraph Response

Reading Response - Online Discussion Forum

Finding humor in the every day - Short Essay



Comedic Devices


Devices of Comedy Handout

Video Clips (SNL, In Living Color, Shakespeare, Boeing Boeing, Portlandia)


Video Analysis

Discussion Forum

Sourcing Clips



Comedy as Social Commentary

- Satire, Parody, etc.


A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift
American Patriot - Hassan Minhaj

The Onion

John Oliver


Writing your own comedy as social commentary

Comparative analysis: Satire vs. Parody



Comedy in Race and Identity


Chris Rock - Stand up

Larry David - "Curb Your Enthusiasm"

Hannah Gadsby - Ten Steps to Nannette (excerpts)

Marcello Hernandez - "Cuban Dominican Tiktoker"

Ali Wong - "Baby Cobra"

Trevor Noah - Born a Crime (Excerpts)


Personal essay on comedy and identity



Women and Intersectionality in Comedy


Sarah Silverman

Tina Fey, Bossypants (excerpts)

Wanda Sykes


Short research paper



Why do we laugh at bad things?


Tig Notaro, "Hello, I have Cancer."

Excerpts from Heidegger and a Hippo walk through those pearly gates

South Park- “Night of the Living Homeless” (2007)


Analysis Response Presentation



Dark Humor - Continued


Bojack Horseman - “The Telescope” (2014)

The ProducersExcerpts (1967)

Trevor Noah, Born a Crime (2016), Excerpt


Online Forum Discussion

Slidedeck, video, or short-essay on "When does Humor Go Too Far?"



Political Humor


New York Time Cartoons

John Stewart

Sarah Silverman

"Don't Look Up" (2021)

SNL Cold Opens


Create your own political cartoons or Cold Open



Low Brow/High Brow




Students will create a presentation of choice to highlight the differences between "high-brow" and "low-brow" humor, both from a historical standpoint and from a modern one. This will be both research based and subjective, (with analysis).



How did it age? Comedy as a marker of time.


Little Britain




Re-create a scene from our selected resources and re-write it for modern day, taking into account what the comedian originally intended and replacing archaic tropes with socially acceptable ones.

Then, make a prediction on how your re-write will age 10 years from now.



Silent Humor


Tom and Jerry

Charlie Chaplin



The Comedy of Animals (This is a special one folks!)


BBC animal videos

NYT cartoons



Attendance Policy

Regular attendance and participation in classes are essential for success in and are completion requirements for courses at CCV. A student's failure to meet attendance requirements as specified in course descriptions will normally result in a non-satisfactory grade.

  • In general, missing more than 20% of a course due to absences, lateness or early departures may jeopardize a student's ability to earn a satisfactory final grade.
  • Attending an on-ground or synchronous course means a student appeared in the live classroom for at least a meaningful portion of a given class meeting. Attending an online course means a student posted a discussion forum response, completed a quiz or attempted some other academically required activity. Simply viewing a course item or module does not count as attendance.
  • Meeting the minimum attendance requirement for a course does not mean a student has satisfied the academic requirements for participation, which require students to go above and beyond simply attending a portion of the class. Faculty members will individually determine what constitutes participation in each course they teach and explain in their course descriptions how participation factors into a student's final grade.

Participation Expectations

While somewhat subjective, participation in this class requires active and regular engagement with your peers via discussion posts. Expectations are as follows:

  • Review the assigned material and demonstrate an understanding of those resources in your assignments and posts. Readings and resources should be cited using MLA or Chicago format.
  • Post an original response to the weekly prompt(s) before Friday at midnight (11:59 PM) and a minimum of two responses to peers before Monday at midnight (11:59 PM). You are welcome to post early and/or more frequently, as your schedule allows, but you will not receive full credit if you do not meet these minimum requirements and/or deadlines.
  • Posts should be substantive and demonstrate college-level writing. A substantive post is well-developed, a minimum 200 words, and references the reading or another appropriate source. A substantive post is NOT one or two sentences of general statements or unsupported opinion.
  • More details on posts will be on the weekly assignment list

Please note, some students will be those first to post and others who prefer a last-minute addition. In order to make sure conversations are happening with ALL class contributors, be mindful of whether you are consistently posting your responses very late/very early and missing out on responding to peers at either end of the spectrum.

Missing & Late Work Policy

  • Late assignments can be submitted up to one week past the deadline. You will lose 10% each day that an assignment is late. After a week, it will no longer be accepted for credit.
  • Late work is not accepted in the discussion forum. Interacting with classmates is an essential part of online discussions and cannot effectively be made up after the fact.
  • You are granted ONE 48-hour extension that is no-questions asked. Beyond that, extensions will be granted only in extenuating circumstances. If a lengthy medical problem or other emergent personal issue will result in missing weekly discussions and/or assignments, please contact your instructor as soon as possible.
  • Students who know that they will not have course access for any given week should make arrangements with their instructor to complete assignments and participation requirements.

Experiential Learning Expectations

Hours: 1-5

Throughout the semester you will be tasked with attending some live event. This could be a local stand-up show, and play, or even a movie in a shared setting. Suggestions will be listed bi-weekly on Canvas.

Accessibility Services for Students with Disabilities:

CCV strives to mitigate barriers to course access for students with documented disabilities. To request accommodations, please
  1. Provide disability documentation to the Accessibility Coordinator at your academic center. https://ccv.edu/discover-resources/students-with-disabilities/
  2. Request an appointment to meet with accessibility coordinator to discuss your request and create an accommodation plan.
  3. Once created, students will share the accommodation plan with faculty. Please note, faculty cannot make disability accommodations outside of this process.

Academic Integrity

CCV has a commitment to honesty and excellence in academic work and expects the same from all students. Academic dishonesty, or cheating, can occur whenever you present -as your own work- something that you did not do. You can also be guilty of cheating if you help someone else cheat. Being unaware of what constitutes academic dishonesty (such as knowing what plagiarism is) does not absolve a student of the responsibility to be honest in his/her academic work. Academic dishonesty is taken very seriously and may lead to dismissal from the College.