Today's lesson: laughs


School is in session at Comedy Central with today's launch of online classes devoted to the art of stand-up comedy.

"Crash Course in Comedy" features 10 broadband video classes designed and instructed by comedian Ted Alexandro ("Comedy Central Presents") that aim to engage and educate hopeful comics.

Alexandro will give users tips on stage presence, joke development and how to write humorous material while illustrating his points with clips from the Comedy Central archive featuring such comedians as Dave Attell, Lewis Black and Greg Giraldo.

"By and large, it's a real opportunity to engage our audience in a two-way street," said Lou Wallach, senior vp original programming and development. "We can talk about and show stand-up and give our audience a chance to be proactively involved."

The site's comic curriculum allows users to build their own avatars and customize them through voice, clothes and accessories. Online users can use this virtual comedian to read their own recorded jokes aloud.

"Unlike traditional curriculums, 'Crash Course in Comedy' was created to give our students the tools to perform, act up and cause mass hysteria," Wallach quipped.

The site, sponsored by Hyundai and located at, also has a "send to friend" feature and a gallery so users can post their own stand-up sets for others to view and rate.

Additionally, the online destination includes a sweepstakes component providing one winner the chance to meet Alexandro and attend a comedy show in New York.

Wallach didn't rule out the possibility of discovering potential comedy talent from the site.

"It allows us to leverage comics in the archive we already have and give our audience the chance to take something away from the network and really give something back," he said.