Camille Bordas on What Stand-Up Comedy Can Teach Writing Workshops About Growing Thicker Skin: Adam Ehrlich Sachs in Conversation with the Author of “The Material” (Adam Ehrlich Sachs, June 13, 2024, LitHub)


Adam Ehrlich Sachs: The Material is set in a dystopia where MFA programs in Stand-Up Comedy have spread across the country. Until recently you taught at an MFA in Creative Writing. I couldn’t help (forgive me) but wonder about the relation between them.

Sometimes you seem to imply a reductio ad absurdum: Now we think we can teach good writing, next we’ll imagine we can impart a sense of humor. But sometimes the Stand-Up students seem like the sane ones, pragmatically honing punch lines, believing only in laughter, while writers chase phantoms like epiphany, truth, and meaning.

Punch lines are effective because they bring epiphanies of truth and meaning out of the absurd.