Birmingham to host Serious About Comedy research – News


Wednesday, March 23, 2022, 11:22 a.m.

  • University of Birmingham and Birmingham Representative launch Serious About Comedy research initiative
  • Starting April 1, the organizations will conduct an “ongoing comedy research conversation”
  • A day of free events is being held on April 1, with speakers that will include comedians and academics

Serious about comedy

The University of Birmingham and Birmingham Rep are to launch a major new collaboration in which they will research comedy.

Serious About Comedy kicks off April 1 with a day of panels, talks, and talks featuring comedians and scholars.

The organizers explain: “This April Fool’s Day, the University of Birmingham and the Birmingham representative are launching a major new collaboration. Co-led by The Rep’s Artistic Director Sean Foley and Professor Ewan Fernie of the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute, this one-day special event, funded by Research England, kicks off a conversation of continuing research from national importance on comedy. What does it mean and how does it work — in plays, stand-up, movies, music, novels and popular culture of all types?

“Over the course of the day, a free program of open discussions sparked by original provocations from top academic researchers and comedy practitioners will put Birmingham on the map as the place that takes comedy seriously. The discussion will explore the nature of comedy through a variety of forms and practices and consider its many benefits to people and place.”

They add: “Serious About Comedy is launching a survey of the most democratic art forms and will launch a new permanent forum where the comedy industry will engage with academia and audiences, in a common quest for learning. and laughter.”

Speakers at daytime events, which will be free, will include Athena Kugblenu, Beth Granville, Dean Burnett, Dr. Annie Mahtani, Dr. Asha Rogers, Dr. Rose Whyman, Felicity Montagu, Helen Monks, Jo Enright, Jon Holmes, Ken Cheng, Olivia Nixon, Professor Graham Saunders, Professor Michael Dobson, Shazia Mirza, Sophie Duker and Tim FitzHigham.

Once the sessions are over, the evening will feature a stand-up show with Lovdev Barpaga, Annette Fagon, Gráinne Maguire, Jo Enright, Josh Pugh, Mrs Barbara Nice, Shazia Mirza, Steve Day and Jay Droch.

Professor Ewan Fernie of the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute said: “We are delighted to be embarking on some truly funny business with The Rep and hope that Serious About Comedy will launch a distinctive and promising new tradition of taking comedy seriously in the city, which will refresh Birmingham’s sense of its own identity and culture in a fun yet intellectually rewarding way.”

Sean Foley adds: “Serious About Comedy continues The Rep’s commitment to being a major player in showcasing comedy in all its forms, such as developing new emerging writing and comedy talent while showcasing the very latest blockbuster comic productions as well as the ever-funny classics.This brilliant new partnership with the University of Birmingham will enable a new permanent forum where the comedy industry dances provocatively with academia and the public, in a quest common learning and laughter. But not necessarily in that order…”

Daytime discussions take place from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Rep. Tickets are free, but you must reserve your place via

The standing party, priced at £15, starts at 7.30pm. Tickets


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