Search

Academics show their funny side at comedy club

11:16 29 October 2010

Comedian Robin Ince

Comedian Robin Ince

Archant

ACADEMICS are traditionally seen as a serious bunch – better known for their stuffy offices and corduroy-heavy wardrobes than their ability to make others laugh.

But boffins at a top north London university are shaking off the stereotype – by performing at a monthly comedy night in Islington.

Researchers at University College London (UCL), in Bloomsbury, have been moonlighting as stand-ups since May last year, and sharing the stage at Finsbury pub the Wilmington Arms, in Rosebery Avenue, with big-name professionals such as Richard Herring and Robin Ince.

Miriam Miller, director of comedy promoters One Green Firework, said: “We’ve proved that academics can be very funny. We honestly haven’t had anybody who has made a mess of it.

“It just goes to show they aren’t just sitting in their offices being staid and boring.”

The monthly event, Bright Club, is the brainchild of UCL’s head of public engagement Steve Cross, whose job involves finding new ways for the university’s academics to reach out to the public.

He said: “We still don’t know why it works. On paper the idea of paying £5 to see a bunch of people who have never performed before telling jokes about research shouldn’t work at all – but it does. We’ve put 65 people through it and no one died.

“Audience members like the fact that they can come and laugh – and then tell their mum they went.”

The researchers are given a few tips at a Bright Club training session before being thrown into the ring for five minutes each, while a professional comperes.

Last week they graduated to the big stage with a sold-out gig at the 500-seater Bloomsbury Theatre - a huge step up from a pub that has a capacity of about 80. Seven academics faced the daunting challenge of having to amuse an audience of hundreds at the one-off event.

Promoter Ms Miller, speaking beforehand, said: “We’ll ply them with beer beforehand and be very reassuring.”

Three top comics – Simon Munnery, Robin Ince and Steve Hall of sketch-troupe We Are Klang – provided back-up, to make sure the laughs kept on coming.

Joe Flatman, UCL archaeologist and Bright Club veteran, who performed again last week, said: “As an archaeologist I have driven jeeps through the Egyptian desert, dived down to shipwrecks, and persuaded armed officials to let me across borders – but none of those experiences were as intimidating as my first time at Bright Club.”

Latest Islington News Stories

Yesterday, 17:41

Blackstock Road in Finsbury Park was closed at the height of the evening rush hour while police investigated a suspicious item left on a 106 bus.

Yesterday, 15:48

A member of Islington’s notorious Adams crime family has been jailed for nine years for shooting a man in the chest at point-blank range.

Yesterday, 15:06

Transport bosses are driving through with changes to the Archway bus network – ignoring 75 per cent of the people whose opinion they asked.

Yesterday, 12:39

A London Metropolitan University lecturer has set up Christmas gift exchange – for Welsh Terriers.

Yesterday, 10:48

The search for a missing teenage girl from Islington has entered its third day.

Thu, 18:02

Controversial plans to build a visitor’s centre at the foot of the Caledonian Park clock tower have won £2million in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Thu, 16:29

A supper club bringing the taste of Zanzibar to Archway has raised more than £1,000 for a hunger charity.

Thu, 15:24

A crook who supplied fake bank cards to criminals across Europe from his Holloway factory is behind bars after being rumbled by police.

PROMOTED CONTENT

If your favourite pair of shoes are on their way out, you might be thinking of throwing them away.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now