There are numerous possibilities for students to rewrite just about anything as a comedy. Students could rewrite a serious chapter from a favorite book with a humorous slant, rework a romantic poem into a laugher, or spin the ending of a scary short story into a comedy. Not only does this present students with the fun challenge of finding humor where there might not appear to be any, but it also leads to the discussion and debate of whether or not humor adds to or diminishes what the author originally intended. The examples provided are activities in which my 6th grade students rewrote selected scenes from Shakespeare's Hamlet and some of his sonnets.
As a culminating activity for our unit on Hamlet, small groups each rewrote a selected scene (#4, 7, 9, 11, or 12) from the abridged version available from "READ" magazine. The main requirement of the task was to change the mood of the scene from tragic to comic, but keep the main events of the scene the same. The pdf copy is available here: Hamlet.pdf (749,2 kB)
Here is an example that a group of students created for scene 9: Hamlet Scene 9 comedy.doc (30,5 kB)
Students were required to insert at least one line using the Shakespeare Insult Kit found here: http://www.pangloss.com/seidel/shake_rule.html
After analyzing selected Shakespearean sonnets, the students rewrote their sonnet with a new purpose. As with Hamlet, students were required to change the mood of the sonnet into pure silliness, but not change the main message. An example that a pair of students created together is here: Sonnet Example.doc (23 kB)