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Comp FAQs


1. How do I comp? 

Satire V holds semesterly editorial, graphics, business, and tech comps. For the Spring 2023 semester, our comp will begin after spring break, with intro meetings on March 20 and 24, and the first comp training on March 24. See more information here or directly add yourself to the spring comp mailing list here.

2. What happens during the comp? 

The editorial comp has four rounds, each of which takes place over the course of one week. 

  1. The straight news round: For this round, compers write a ~200 word pieces in the style of a straight news article from our website. Examples of straight news articles include: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (Though we run a competitive comp, there are no cuts during round 1; cuts happen at the end of each week starting in round 2.)
  2. Straight news round part II: same thing as week one, but (hopefully) better.
  3. The area man/op-ed round: In round two, compers choose to write either an area man or op-ed piece. Examples of an area man piece for this round include: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Examples of an op-ed piece for this round include: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
  4. Lightning round: For the final round, you can write a piece in any previously discussed format, or a Clickhole-style article (1, 2), a listicle (1, 2) a quiz (1, 2), etc (1). This is the only round in which compers do not get office hours or edits from staff writers, although before the lightning round compers will get brief feedback about trends in their writing to help them improve.

Information regarding style, subject matter, and expectations for each format are discussed at the weekly comp meetings. For the first three rounds, there will be office hours with current staff writers where compers can pitch headlines, workshop jokes, and crystallize their pieces. Use these office hours: all of the staff writers are invested in your success, and try desperately to be as helpful as possible. Once you submit your articles, you’ll receive feedback from a staff writer. You’ll then be given 24 hours to make modifications and send back a final draft. We factor in receptivity to feedback when we evaluate pieces in order to minimize differences in prior comedy experience and give compers the chance to improve.

Don’t be intimidated! We promise that the process is simple and straightforward. If you’re nervous, just come to our comp interest meeting (separate from our first comp meeting) and check us out.

As for the graphics and tech comps, they'll also have four rounds and regular office hours. Graphics compers will learn how to use Photoshop and other digital resources to make visuals for humorous articles, memes, and publicity content. They'll turn in four graphics by the end of the comp season and get a close look at the editorial process of a widely-read publication. Tech compers will work on scraping websites, building Chrome extensions, and other digital tasks to see if they could help us execute content and pranks. Email [email protected] for more info. 

3. What if I don't have any comedy experience? 

Not a problem! The vast majority of our staff writers comped with no previous comedy writing experience. The whole point of the comp is to help compers learn the tools of the trade to improve and grow their writing.

We want to emphasize that comedy writing is about practice. The more pieces you read and write, the better you’ll get! There is an abundance of comedy material to check out on The Onion, Clickhole, Reductress, McSweeneys, the New Yorker, and more.


4. What are your expectations for comp pieces?

We’re looking for funny premises  the main ideas that guide your piece  and excellent executions of those premises.

Funny premises rely on a well-written headline and a good number of supporting jokes in the body of the article (we call this “joke density”). Headlines should be attention-grabbing and to the point. After reading the headline, we should immediately understand what your premise is all about. While reading through your article, we will take note of all your supporting jokes, so make sure they’re embedded into your article clearly and often!

Good execution depends on easy readability, checking your piece for grammar and spelling errors, and using paragraphs to organize flow. Excellent execution also incorporates the format and syntax of a newspaper article. This means that you should structure your piece like a newspaper article or op-ed.

If you have any questions, all of these things will be extensively discussed at meetings throughout our comp. Additionally, you’re always welcome to email [email protected] or bring your questions to our comp office hours.


5. What if I get cut? 

If you don’t make it the first time, you are more than welcome to comp again. No judgment — we have plenty of staff writers who got in their second or third time. We try to make sure that everyone has the tools they need to succeed at the comp, but sometimes it takes a little longer for people to get the hang of the style. That’s totally okay!

You can also get involved in our fall sketch comedy show or our spring musical, both of which are open to all. Like our Facebook page for updates! We’d also suggest checking out On Harvard Time or the Harvard College Stand-Up Comics Society. We’ve partnered with these organizations before for shows and pranks. They're noncompetitive, and they’re great ways to hone your comedic style.


For more information, email [email protected]