5 Best Colleges for Comedy

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Like any profession, artistic or otherwise, comedy takes years of  training, practice, and dedication. Some of the best comics first started finding their comedic footing on their own college campuses, like John Mulaney and Nick Kroll performing in the same improv troupe at Georgetown, or Pete Holmes improvising and writing a humor column at Gordon College, or DC Pierson, Dominic Dierkes, and Donald Glover putting together Derrick Comedy sketches at NYU. While schools across the country have campus improv troupes and comedy writing classes, here are, by my research, the top five schools in the country for aspiring comedians.

northwestern5. Northwestern University 

Not only does Northwestern have the innovative and incredible Titanic Players improv groups, but the school also offers plenty of other opportunities for student to produce good comedy. There’s the Comedy Forum for stand-ups, the Mee-Ow Comedy Troupe, and Northwestern Sketch Television. Off campus, students can also delve into Chicago’s rich comedy scene, with some of the nation’s best improv theatres and comedy shows just a short drive away.

 

harvard4. Harvard University

The Harvard Lampoon, of course, has produced some of the best comedy writers in the country like Conan O’Brien, Colin Jost, and Simon Rich. On top of the most storied college humor publication in the country, the school also boasts a very talented improv troupe, the Immediate Gratification Players, and has the Harvard Stand-Up Comic Society. Some of the strongest working comics around have come out of Harvard, like Dan Mintz, Harrison Greenbaum, and BJ Novak.

 

nyu-icon3. New York University

There’s nothing better for a young comedian than being in New York. NYU students can walk to UCB and UCBeast to see incredible shows every night of the week and can hop on a train to the Creek and the Cave to watch some of best young comics in the country performing on some of the most innovative and rewarding shows you’ll ever see. While there’s obviously incredible comedy all over New York, students also have opportunities to perform on campus as well. Dangerbox is one of the most elite improv troupes in the country and Hammerkatz might be the most consistently strong college sketch troupe around. In terms of actual programs, Tisch offers courses in sketch comedy, screenwriting, and writing for late night television, all of which are worth taking to prepare for a career in comedy.

columbia-college-chicago2. Columbia College

After rolling out their incredible Comedy Studies semester-long program in conjunction with Second City, Columbia College is now the only school in the country where you can actually get a degree in comedy. Their program provides students with a chance to engage in all different sorts of comedy, from videos to live sketches to stand-up to improv to television writing. Not to mention, Columbia is right in Chicago so students can venture out into the very strong and supportive local stand-up scene.

 

 

emerson1. Emerson College

Emerson has been producing incredible comedians for years. Just a quick look at their alumni list and you’ll see Jay Leno, Jen Kirkman, Joe Mande, Denis Leary, Eddie Brill, Harris Wittels, Norman Lear, Dan Levy, Laura Kightlinger, and Max Mutchnick. Note: This ranking comes with some bias, as I am currently an Emerson student, but I only wound up there because I knew about it’s high quality comedy programs. There are eight campus comedy troupes, all with distinct voices and vibes. The school’s stand-up collective, Inside Joke, provides the most supportive rooms anyone can start out in, with bi-weekly open mics, semesterly roasts, and other special events and showcases. It’s also easy for students to branch out into Boston’s comedy scene, with lots of great rooms around the city providing stage time for college comics like ImprovBoston, Grandma’s Basement, and The Comedy Studio.  The school’s campus TV station, the Emerson Channel, also provides students with the opportunity to write for two comedy programs, the campus late night show Closing Time Live and Breaking News, a satirical news program.

If you’re looking for schools with great improv troupes, check out this helpful Splitsider article by Erik Voss.