Buzzelli to hold comedy writing workshop

Published May 21, 2013 at 8:13 pm (Updated May 22, 2013 at 1:38 pm)

Michael Buzzelli is no stranger to comedy writing.

He’s been an established stand-up comedian for many years, and has sold two scripts to independent film companies, and written a handful of other scripts along the way.

When he moved from Los Angeles back to Pittsburgh in 2010, he began writing a weekly humor column for the Observer-Reporter – the success of which lead to his book, “Below Average Genius,” a collection of his columns, released last summer.

When helping his friend, Robert Portudiel, a fellow writer in the Carnegie Screenwriters group, write a screenplay, Robert suggested that he teach his craft. Buzzelli always had an interest in teaching, and he took Portudiel’s advice to heart and went to the Carnegie Arts Initiative to bring them into the equation.

Through the organization’s help, he is now teaching The Art of Writing Comedy-Screenplays, a four-week, 90-minute course, at the Third Street Gallery in Carnegie. The class will be taught each Wednesday in June, beginning June 5 at 7 p.m.

The focus of the course will be the craft of writing a screenplay, with the emphasis being on comedy. However, according to Buzzelli, comedy is merely “drama exaggerated.”

“When you describe a comedy, you describe the drama,” Buzzelli said. “When you talk about a film like “Bridesmaids,” and you’re describing it to a friend, you say it’s about a girl who can’t get married and watches as her friend gets married before her eyes. However, with comedy, you’re not focusing merely on the misery. You look at the humor of the situation. When I call a car dealership and tell them, ‘I have a flat tire,’ that’s not very funny. But, if this were comedic, you might go, ‘Well, I’ve got three good tires.’”

The class will be $125, with a $25 discount for any participant with a current student I.D. Among the concepts to be taught in the class are writing jokes and recreating real life events through writing.

“Hopefully, my knowledge will provide some helpful insight into comedy and how to tell a joke,” Buzzelli said.

Buzzelli hopes that the money made from this class will be used to foster other creative projects offered through the Carnegie Arts Initiative.

“Humor always brings us up,” Buzzelli said. “We are lightening our load with laughter. I always try to look at the humor of a situation. Once you are able to laugh at a situation, you’re finally able to appreciate it for all it’s worth.”

With his course, Buzzelli wants to benefit both the film community here in Pittsburgh and the Carnegie Arts Initiative.

“Pittsburgh has become a film city, and we want local people to cash in on it,” Buzzelli said. “I think it would be great to get some local Pittsburgh people to get more movies made here. If we can get one person from this class to get a movie made, that would be wonderful.”

In addition to the class, the Carnegie Arts Initiative will also be hosting another Third on Third on June 17 at the 3rd Street Gallery, which involves local actors reading the works of local writers.

“I think that it’s good for everybody,” said Buzzelli. “It takes a village to make a movie, with gaffers, best boys, camera men and everybody.”

Buzzelli can be followed on Twitter at @MichaelBuzzelli.

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