The Art of the Laugh gives readers an inside look at the process and philosophies that have been used to create some of the most innovative sketch comedy in America. Written by John Sweeney, owner of the Brave New Workshop (BNW) Comedy Theatre, this handbook shares the creative process used by the theatre to write and perform originally scripted sketch comedy for over 45 years. Revealing the BNW's eight core philosophies of improvisation, along with the detailed process of idea generation, scripting, rehearsal, and performance, this text acts as a road map to immediately improve your skills as a writer, director, or performer. Developed from - and as part of the curriculum for the theatre's school, the Brave New Institute - this handbook also contains a CD with sample scripts, audio performances and worksheets to aid the reader.

This site contains three distinct options for exploring:

  • A resource center with general class structure, improv exercises and information, as well as downloadable worksheets.
  • Improvisation-related links to other sites and exercises
  • Information specific to purchasing, promoting, and writing the book
  • Samples of the process in action (see Reading, Listening, Viewing links directly to the left).

The files included on this site are:

  • audio files in .wav and .mp3 formats
  • video files in .wmv format
  • text files in .pdf (Acrobat Reader required) and .doc (MS Word)

If you're interested in taking classes at the Brave New Institute (the organization highlighted in The Art of the Laugh), then please visit the company's website at

Or, if you'd like to see how this process has been used for more than 45 years to write sketch comedy, visit the theatre that practices what it teaches - the Brave New Workshop Comedy Theatre at 2605 Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis. The web site with current show listings can be viewed at