April 6, 2016

USC Comedy Report

By David Isaacs

Back in 2010, three long time comedy professionals, SCA professors Jack Epps, Barnet Kellman and David Isaacs, had a dream.  To launch an initiative to create an SCA Academy of Comedy. In 2016 the dream has become a full functioning reality.

For starters we’ve changed our name to better incorporate our unique program and location. USC Comedy at The School of Cinematic Arts. There is also a new website and promotional film at (https:cinema.usc.edu/comedy). It’s a comprehensive look at the mission and scope of the program.

Extensive curriculum in comedy is growing across three SCA Divisions, (Production, Writing, Cinema and Media Studies) and last year we added a University approved SCA Minor in Comedy for interested students from Schools across campus.

We’ve forged a new relationship with the School of Dramatic Arts and in January held our first co-sponsored event featuring an evening with Emmy Award winning actor Tony Shalhoub. An SRO crowd of SCA and SDA students filled the Bing Theatre.

2016 marks the third year of “Comedy Live”. Writing, Production and Acting students combine to produce three episodes of a half hour comedy variety series, shot in front of a live audience and broadcast and streamed through Trojan Vision on three Friday nights. March 4, and still to air, April 1 and April 24.)

The Spring ’16 Semester is filled to overflowing with USComedy events and opportunities to hear from distinguished comedy professionals. April 5th Writer/Director and alum Jason Reitman (Up in the Air, Juno) will discuss his film and TV career. On April 15th Director and alum Tim Story (Barbershop and Ride Along) will be presented with the Jack and Victoria Oakie Master of Comedy Award. On April 19th the writing staff of the CBS hit comedy. “Mom” will visit providing insight on the half hour comedy process.

Two separate networking events will also be held this semester. On Friday March 25th, Students and Faculty will gather in the SCA Gallery for a Comedy Mixer and on Monday April 4th young alums working in Comedy will meet students hoping to follow in the footprints. 

US Comedy now has its own extra-curricular club, US Comedians open to all students looking for opportunity to do comedy outside of the classroom.  Members can partake from any number of options including, writing and producing web content, improvisational work and a scene workshop.   

The 3rd USC Comedy Festival will be held the weekend of October (21-23). It’s become our signature event with popular Industry panels, preview screenings and celebrations of great films and comedy series. Past Festival participants have included a who’s who of Film and TV comedy, including, Steve Carrell, Paul Feig, James L. Brooks, Phil Rosenthal, Betty White, Paul Witt, Tony Thomas, Lisa Kudrow, Larry Wilmore, Liz Meriwether and James Burrows to name just a few.

USComedy has come a long way in a fast six years and is still growing.