They take the art of comedy very seriously at Emerson College. The New York Times reports that students at the Boston liberal arts school can now major in comedy. The comedic arts Bachelor of Fine Arts program officially launches in Fall of 2016, though it was preceded by a comedic arts minor last year.
According to an Emerson press release, the major is geared toward students interested in pursuing a career in comedy performance, writing, and production—and the curriculum is no laughing matter. Rather, the academically rigorous major takes an interdisciplinary approach to comedy. Students must take performance and writing classes, as well as studying the history of comedy dating back to the Renaissance.
The New York Times explains that the program was created by Emerson professor Martie Cook, who previously wrote for Full House (1987). Initial courses include “Comedy Writing for Television,” “Great Screenwriters: Wilder, Allen, Kaufman,” “Why Did the Chicken?—Fundamentals of Comedic Storytelling,” and “Performing Improv Comedy.” The program also offers a semester in Los Angeles where students can work with a professional in show business.
While the major might sound a bit silly to some, Emerson has a long comedic history. Famous alumni include Jay Leno, Denis Leary, Jennifer Coolidge, Bill Burr, and Henry Winkler, as well as writers and producers on shows like The Colbert Report, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and The Simpsons.
“This is a great moment for Emerson to bring what has become one of our distinctive strengths to the forefront,” alumnus and president of Viacom Music and Entertainment Group Doug Herzog said in a press statement. “Some schools develop NFL quarterbacks. We develop great comedic talent.”
[h/t The New York Times]