Course Director

Andrew Clark
Andrew Clark is an award-winning author and humourist. He writes the weekly Road Sage column for the Globe and Mail. He is the director of the Humber College Comedy program in Toronto where he teaches a course in “The History of Comedy” as well as comic script writing. He has won a gold award and been nominated several times for his writing at the National Magazine Awards and was nominated for a Governor-General’s Award for Literary Non-Fiction for his most recent book, A Keen Soldier: The Execution of Second World War Private Harold Pringle. In the 1990s, he became Canada’s first fulltime comedy critic and his first book Stand and Deliver: Inside Canadian Comedy remains the standard for writing critically about comedy. As a freelance journalist, he has written for publications including The Globe and Mail, McSweeney’s, The Walrus, Maclean’s and The New York Times Magazine.

Picture of Andrew Clark
Andrew Clark

Term and Time

Winter 2024 – starting January 12
12:50 am on Friday afternoon
Room 204 in York Hall

Course Description

For as long as there have been people there’s been comedy. The oldest Egyptian hieroglyphic for laughter dates to 2900 BC and the Old Testament has 26 references to laughter, including Chapter 18 of Book of Genesis when Sarah, aged 90, laughs at the news she is going to be a mother. This course will examine the evolution of comedy and explore the recurring motifs and styles that have survived through the ages. We’ll explore Indigenous humour. We’ll examine how Roman rhetoric relates to modern stand-up comedy, how vaudeville and music hall have been reborn on Tik Tok and Instagram. We’ll also do deep dives into the history of Canadian comedy, from the soldiers’ concert parties of the First World War to radio comedy in the 1930s and 40s, as well as the birth of stand-up comedy, the rise of Boomer humour in the sixties and seventies as well as alternative comedy of the 1990s. Along the way, we will make time for in-depth study of seminal comedic works such as Groundhog Day.

Course Outline

Two weeks before the course starts, you can download a printable PDF giving the 10-week detailed course outline.

Lecture Notes

Links to resources such as additional reading or play lists are provided here as the Course Director makes them available during the term.

Greek and Roman Comedy Notes

Humour Writing Notes

Groundhog Day Lecture

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