Lake Erie College launches new minor in comedy studies

Fine Arts,

Click here for the Plain Dealer's coverage of our comedy studies minor. 

The curriculum at Lake Erie College is about to get a whole lot funnier. Starting this semester, students can minor in comedy studies, a new offering within the College’s School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

While anyone can tell a joke, the art of comedy is not so easy. The comedy studies minor at LEC will help students harness their creativity across disciplines while honing their techniques and exploring the rich historical, cultural and theoretical dimensions of comedy as an art form.

Students will primarily learn from Associate Professor of Theatre Dr. Jerry Jaffe, the long-time LEC faculty member who conceptualized the new minor. Having grown up watching comedians like the Marx Brothers and Charlie Chaplin, Dr. Jaffe performed in many comedies as a young actor and took up stand-up while he was in college.

Dr. Jaffe emphasizes that studying comedy is worthwhile for anyone regardless of career aspirations. “Comedy has a wide range of applications,” he said. “While it might seem obvious for someone interested in standup or theater to study comedy, the skill set can be useful in other vocational disciplines ranging from advertising to public relations.”

According to Dr. Jaffe, there’s a growing interest in the field of comedy, evidenced by the creation of comedy studies programs at several colleges across the country. Students minoring in comedy studies at Lake Erie College will study comedy in all of its forms including performance, art, creative writing, history and theory, not to mention standup comedy, film, design and advertising.

“This academic program is highly relevant to all students,” said Dr. Bryan DePoy, vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer. “In fact, it prepares students to be better communicators, a highly valued skill. Interestingly, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the career outlook for actors, including comedians, is expected to grow 10% in the coming years, which is faster than average.”

Through the comedy studies coursework at LEC, students will also have access to Dr. Jaffe’s own network of professional comedians and industry professionals as he invites individuals to campus to perform, visit classes and work directly with the students.

For instance, actor and comedian Sean Lynch will be on campus in March to visit with students before giving a free performance on Tuesday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the C.K. Rickel Theatre in Royce Hall for the Fine and Performing Arts. A touring headliner who performs all over the country, Sean is best known for being co-creator of Celebrity Death Match and for appearing as a featured actor in the current season of The Walking Dead.

The comedy studies minor at LEC requires 15 semester credits including “Introduction to Comedy Studies,” “Comedy: Performance and Theory,” and “Comedy on Film,” the latter two courses having been derived from previously offered special topics courses at the College. The minor will also involve a new section of the English Creative Writing Series at LEC called “Creative Writing: Comedy & Humor,” as well as a course on improvisation.

Students at LEC are looking forward to the opportunity to take classes in the comedy minor. "It's a great way to push yourself outside your limits and give yourself new experiences." said Jessie Moore, a senior majoring in English who is currently enrolled in Theatre 270: Comedy, Writing and Performance.

Ultimately, Dr. Jaffe would like to see the program expand to include activities such as comedy contests and an academic symposia on comedy. For more information on the comedy studies minor at Lake Erie College, contact Dr. Jaffe at jjaffe@lec.edu.

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