How To Be David Sedaris But You—Funny Personal Essays with Elissa Bassist

Learn the craft of writing funny personal essays with an acclaimed author and humourist

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May 27, 2023
Saturday, 2pm–5pm EST (11am–2pm Pacific)

Why do you laugh when you read? Because you relate? Because you’re surprised? Because life is an absurd farce? In this one-day masterclass, we’ll summon Vivian Gornick’s differentiation of the “situation” vs. the “story” and discuss the many ways to turn a “funny situation” into a “funny story” that you can publish and self-promote.

We’ll read funny personal essays by our literary favourites to crack/steal the tricks they used to write them. We’ll analyze the strengths/weaknesses of the genre; discuss what it takes to make a funny personal essay transcend the personal; and isolate what’s unusual and universal in our own situations to carve out our stories. We’ll cover the “that one time…” essay, the revelation essay, the modification essay, the funny op-ed, the stylish and self-depreciating essay, and the obsession essay.

We’ll also gossip about which publications want the personal essay, how to follow up in a non-annoying manner, and how to look good (or at least better) in a headshot.


During the webinar, you will learn:

  • How to find and form a clear, unique angle for your personal essays

  • How to turn a funny anecdote into a publishable funny essay

  • How to pitch personal essays and where

  • Ways to make friends as an adult


After checkout, you’ll receive a receipt with a link to download your tickets, which will include Zoom passcodes and additional webinar information. You will also receive an emailed reminder a few days before the event.


This webinar is designed for live participation but a recording of the webinar will be provided to all registrants to stream if they’re unable to attend in full or wish to view it again. Closed captioning is also available for both live and recorded video, however, it’s auto-generated and subject to error.


Elissa Bassist is the editor of the “Funny Women” column on The Rumpus and the author of the award-deserving memoir Hysterical. As a founding contributor to The Rumpus, she’s written cultural and personal criticism since the website launched in 2009. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Marie Claire, Creative Nonfiction, and more, including the anthology Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, edited by Roxane Gay. She teaches tragicomic writing at The New School, Catapult, 92NY, and Lighthouse Writers Workshop, and she is probably her therapist’s favourite.

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