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Comedy minor launches at Emerson


Dan Goldberg '17, a member of the student comedy group Derbyn and Drakefish, is excited about the announcement of Emerson's new Comedy minor degree. (Photo by Michelle Kwong '15)

Emerson College announced it has launched a minor in Comedy, strengthening even further the College’s foothold in the entertainment industry.

The minor was approved by College officials last semester; students interested in taking the minor can begin by using courses they are already taking this semester. The news has created buzz among students.

“Once word gets around, I believe it will take off and be quite popular,” said Dan Goldberg ’17, a Visual and Media Arts major, who performs stand-up comedy in the student group Derbyn and the Drakefish.

Emerson has a well-developed comedy presence, including eight officially recognized comedy organizations. The official name of the minor is “Comedy: Writing and Performance.”

“I’d definitely consider taking this minor. I mean you can always be funnier, right?” said Jack Ross ’17, a Visual and Media Arts major who is a member of the Emerson Comedy Workshop student organization. “I think it’ll be really great to teach the basics of comedy writing and how to act comedically, which are two really important things that I learned through being in a comedy troupe.”


Jack Ross '17, a member of Emerson Comedy Workshop, talks about the College's new offering of a Comedy minor degree. (Photo by Michelle Kwong '15)

“Everyone knows that if you’re serious about comedy, Emerson is the place to be,” said Martie Cook, associate chair of Visual and Media Arts, who developed the Comedy minor along with her colleagues in the School of the Arts.

Cook says the idea of a Comedy minor began more than three years ago, when she advocated for Emerson to establish a comedy center on campus. After speaking with Robert Sabal, interim dean of the School of the Arts, a committee was formed to develop the minor.

“The beauty of minoring in comedy is that comedy is universal,” Cook said. “Everyone loves to laugh, and everyone loves people who make them laugh.”


Martie Cook, associate chair of Visual and Media Arts, advocated for a Comedy minor at Emerson. 

The Comedy minor is interdisciplinary—meaning that classes for the minor are offered by multiple academic departments. In this case, the classes are in Visual and Media Arts; Writing, Literature and Publishing; and Performing Arts.

“In a way, a comedy minor is like a secret weapon,” Cook said. “No matter what field you go into—be it marketing, advertising, producing, or even selling used cars—if you can make people laugh or smile, you automatically up your chances of success.”

There are two required courses for the minor: VM 222, Writing for Television, and VM 208, The Evolution of Comedy. Students will then choose three additional classes that will include both writing and performance.

Adam Greenfield, assistant director in the School of the Arts, was a member of the committee that shaped the Comedy minor.

“When Martie initially proposed the idea, we all said…‘Why hadn’t we thought of it sooner?’” said Greenfield. “It’s kind of a no-brainer.”

Greenfield said the minor could help students “immensely” in their careers, regardless of their majors.

“Whether on a stage, in a board room, a writers’ room, or simply talking one-on-one,” he said, “being empowered with the grace and confidence to artfully apply humor in your daily life gives you an invaluable edge.”

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