Coronavirus Updates: USC  |  SCA

USC Comedy Festival, Vol. 5 Presents: CAN COMEDY BE TAUGHT?

April 9, 2021, 7:00 P.M. PDT

Live Online Webinar

USC Comedy at the School of Cinematic Arts,
and USC Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative,
invite you to attend a special virtual discussion



with Matt Besser, Lisa Kudrow, and Demetri Martin

Moderated by SDA Professor Wayne Federman

7:00 P.M. PDT on Friday, April 9th, 2021


Open to USC Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, and the General Public.

Presented during the USC Comedy Festival, Vol. 5,
taking place from April 9th - 11th, 2021.

Visit the USC Comedy Festival, Vol. 5 Homepage:
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Follow the USC Comedy Festival, Vol. 5 on Twitter: @USCComedy

About the Panel Discussion

Before COVID, half the people you knew were taking improv classes. The other half were teaching them. Was the whole thing a scam? Can comedy be taught? Should it be? Our panel of experts will discuss the problems and possibilities of the comedy curriculum. For free.

Joining Professor Wayne Federman will be improv legend, UCB founder, and host of the podcast Improv4humans Matt Besser;  Groundling, portrayer of both Buffay twins, and current star of Netflix’s Space Force Lisa Kudrow; and stand-up comedian, Overthinker, Ice Bear, and author of If It’s Not Funny It’s Art, Demetri Martin.

About the Guests


Actor, comedian, director, producer, and writer, best known as one of the four founding members of the Upright Citizens Brigade sketch comedy troupe. He is the co-author of Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manual. He currently hosts the podcast Improv4humans on the Earwolf network, and his latest stand-up special, Pot Humor, is on Amazon prime. From Arkansas.


Emmy Award-winning actress, Lisa Kudrow is best known for her role as Phoebe Buffay on Friends, for which Kudrow was nominated for an Emmy award five times and won once. Kudrow created, starred and produced critically acclaimed and Emmy nominated The Comeback for HBO, as well as Web Therapy, a web series that transitioned to a half hour program on Showtime. Through her own production company Is or Isn’t (with Dan Bucatinsky), Kudrow produces the US version of the BBC series Who Do You Think You Are? IOI also produced The Comeback, Web Therapy among other productions. Kudrow has also appeared in a variety of films including Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion, The Opposite of Sex, Analyze This, P.S I Love You, Easy A, The Boss Baby, and Booksmart. More recently, Lisa has appeared in Netflix’s Death to 2020, Feel Good, and Fox animated series Housebroken.


Demetri Martin is a standup comedian, artist, writer, and director. He began doing stand-up comedy in New York City, where he worked as a staff writer for "Late Night with Conan O’Brien". Demetri then became a regular performer on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart. Demetri won the Perrier Award at the International Fringe Festival in Edinburgh for his one-man show, "If I”.  He has released three stand-up comedy albums and four hour-long standup comedy specials, including his latest for Netflix, "The Overthinker”. Demetri’s fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, and The New York Times Magazine. He recently wrote and directed his first feature film, "Dean", which won the Founder’s Prize at the Tribeca Film Festival for best narrative American feature film. Demetri has brown hair and he is allergic to peanuts.

WAYNE FEDERMAN (Moderator, SDA Professor)

Wayne Federman has had a prolific career of comedic acting in Hollywood, playing a variety of characters in many of the funniest films and TV shows of the past 20 years including “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Silicon Valley.” He’s a touring stand-up comedian who has appeared multiple times on The Tonight Show.  Federman co-produced the Emmy-winning documentary The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling and is currently co-producing a George Carlin documentary for HBO. He recently authored a new book The History of Stand-Up: From Mark Twain to Dave Chappelle. He is a tenured, adjunct professor of standup comedy history and performance at USC.

About the USC Comedy Festival, Vol. 5

The 5th Edition of the USC Comedy Festival comes after a year of unprecedented social isolation and demands for social justice. Staring at screens or out in the streets, we learned why we still needed comedy and discovered new ways to make each other laugh in spite of everything. Affiliated with the USC Comedy track at the School of Cinematic Arts and the Jack Oakie and Victoria Horne Oakie Foundation, the festival will honor legendary performer, impressionist, and character-ologist Bill Hader. Over the course of three days, panels will feature well-known guests such as Aidy Bryant, Demetri Martin, Lisa Kudrow, Lindy West, Matt Besser, Patton Oswalt, and Ramy Youssef; capture new voices exploding onto the scene; and celebrate the work of our newest generation of USC Comedy students.

Visit the USC Comedy Festival, Vol. 5 Homepage:
Follow the USC Comedy Festival, Vol. 5 on Facebook:
Follow the USC Comedy Festival, Vol. 5 on Instagram: @USCComedy
Follow the USC Comedy Festival, Vol. 5 on Twitter: @USCComedy

About USC Comedy at the School of Cinematic Arts

In 2010 USC became the first university in the nation to offer a program dedicated to training filmmakers in the art of comedy. USC Comedy at the School of Cinematic Arts offers instruction in the writing, directing, production as well as the history and theory of comedy. Students work with a distinguished, award-winning faculty of comedy professionals to discover and develop their comedic voices, while getting unrivaled access to the field through workshops, internships, demonstrations and screenings and festivals.

USC Comedy boasts an award-winning faculty that includes Jack Epps Jr. (The Secret of My SuccessLegal EaglesTop Gun), Barnet Kellman (Murphy BrownMad About YouGeorge Lopez), David Isaacs (Cheers, FrasierM*A*S*H*), Robert Townsend (Diary of A Single Mom, The Parent Hood), Rob Schiller (The King of Queens), Andy Cadiff (Last Man Standing, Spin City) John Bowman (Saturday Night LiveIn Living Color), Dave Goetsch (The Big Bang Theory), F J Pratt (Sullivan & Son) and Tim Marx (Young Sheldon), to name just a few.
Our students benefit from the expertise and participation of SCA Comedy Alumni such as Jay Roach (Austin PowersMeet the Parents), Tim Story (Barber ShopRide Along), Judd Apatow (Girls, Superbad, Knocked Up),  Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy), Peter Segal (Tommy BoyGet Smart), Gabe Sachs (Freaks and Geeks), Jason Reitman (JunoUp in the Air), Nahnatchka Khan (Fresh Off The Boat), and Prentice Penny (Insecure), among many other luminaries and industry professionals.

For more information, visit:

About USC Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative

Visions and Voices is a university-wide arts and humanities initiative that is unparalleled in higher education. The initiative was established by USC President C. L. Max Nikias during his tenure as provost in order to fulfill the goals set forth in USC's strategic plan; to communicate USC's core values to students; and to affirm the human spirit. Emphasizing the university's commitment to interdisciplinary approaches, the initiative features a spectacular array of events conceived and organized by faculty and schools throughout the university. The series includes theatrical productions, music and dance performances, conferences, lectures, film screenings and many other special events both on and off campus. Each program invites students to dialogue and interact with artists, writers, professors and special guests. These interactions provide a dynamic experience of the arts and humanities and encourage active exploration of USC's core values, including freedom of inquiry and expression, team spirit, appreciation of diversity, commitment to serving one's community, entrepreneurial spirit, informed risk-taking, ethical conduct and the search for truth.

Visit the Official Visions and Voices Website:
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Follow Visions and Voices on Twitter: @VisionsnVoices


Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago