Category Archives: Linda Smith Collection

HistComPod – Episode 4 ‘Robin Ince’s Postcards’

In the fourth episode of A History Of Comedy In Several Objects, now out on the iTunes store, we get to grips with comedians’ set lists, whilst exploring how scripts and prompts are used in stand-up. We see some archived materials from influential comedians, including Josie Long’s spider diagrams, Linda Smith’s notes, Andy de la Tour’s scripts and, the main feature of this episode, Robin Ince’s postcard set-lists written for one of his ‘Robin Ince is as Dumb as You‘ 2005 shows. We also feature exclusive audio clips from Andy de la Tour and Linda Smith performing life stand-up comedy.

Don’t forget to get involved! You can contact us via or tweet us at @histcompod. You can search the online catalogue for more information about the holdings of  the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive at

Images of some objects featured on the podcast can be found on our flickr site in the ‘History of Comedy in Several Objects‘ album.

Robin Ince set list (Robin Ince is as Dumb as You)

Linda Smith Lecture 2016: Andy Hamilton

Matt Hoss, a University of Kent MA Stand-Up Comedy student, reviews the second Linda Smith Lecture, this year given by Andy Hamilton.

Returning for its second year, The Linda Smith Lecture came back in full glory on the 3rd May 2016 at Canterbury’s Gulbenkian Theatre. Any act would have a hard time following Mark Thomas from last year’s event, but Andy Hamilton was able to deliver.

The show had highly comical moments created by Hamilton, as he picked upon his vast wealth anecdotes which he leisurely perused at his disposal. For example he talked about throwing up regularly at Green Park, swearing as a six-year old around a campfire and calling a producer’s bluff about his “Grannie in Dundee”, as he discusses his comedy career.

Hamilton’s performance also had rather touching moments encapsulated within his lecture. In particular his moments reflecting Linda Smith were particularly poignant and well-suited for the environment and tone of the evening.

Hamilton really raised some interesting points within the world of television, offence and comedy. He talked about how television producers shy away from genre splicing, but Hamilton states that this is an alien concept as life does not separate comedy from the tragedy.

Andy Hamilton, presenting the 2016 Linda Smith Lecture, 3 May 2016, Gulbenkian Theatre, University of Kent

Andy Hamilton, presenting the 2016 Linda Smith Lecture, 3 May 2016, Gulbenkian Theatre, University of Kent

The crown jewel within Hamilton’s lecture is his main argument about how he believes that comedy is important, but it is more important to not be offended. Hamilton claims “Comedy licenses us to be subversive and transgressive about the things we fear the most. But we will no longer be able to do that if we keep on increasing the subjects that are out-of-bounds”. He backed up these moments of honesty and truthfulness with more hilarious stories, creating an explicably engaging speech.

Overall Hamilton’s lecture was thoughtful and highly comical and left the audience with glee. Certainly next year’s speaker will have an even higher expectation to perform to after Hamilton’s remarkable performance.


British Stand-Up Comedy Archive spring update

Elspeth Millar writes:

It’s been quite a while since we blogged, so we thought we’d provide a quick update on how the project is progressing, and our other activities over these first few months of the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive Beacon project.

We’ve been in contact with a number of potential donors involved in comedy (from comedians to comedy promoters) regarding further deposits – we should be able to announce more details soon! In the meantime, we’ve been sorting, listing and beginning to catalogue our four main collections: Linda Smith, Mark Thomas, Tony Allen, and John Pidgeon.

We’ve also been working with the UK Web Archive to establish a ‘British Stand-Up Comedy Archive’ special collection, to capture websites relating to the material that we physically/digitally hold, but also (by capturing websites with comedy listings, news and reviews) to capture a snapshot of the UK comedy scene for future researchers.


Unfortunately we had to cancel our first ‘in conversation’ event with Alexei Sayle in February as Oliver Double broke his hip! Olly will soon be back on campus and our (now) first ‘in conversation’ event is with Richard Herring on 8th April at the Gulbenkian. Further information can be found on The Gulbenkian’s website. The event will be filmed and added to the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive collections.


Format explorations for digitisation
One aspect of the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive Beacon project, the one-year funded project as part of the University of Kent’s 50th anniversary celebrations, is to investigate the choice of formats for capturing material in a digital form for long-term preservation.  There are a number of factors to consider such as:

  • Sustainability (how ‘open’ is the format? What is the quality i.e. uncompressed, lossless compression, lossy compression? Does the format have good metadata support?),
  • Implementation (how hard technically is it to implement the format? Is there a wide availability of tools for implementation?)
  • And cost (what are the storage and network costs? What are the required software and hardware costs?)

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time researching our options and making decisions on which formats we will use.

We have begun our digitisation activities by digitising paper items (posters, flyers, scripts and notes) and photographs (prints and negatives).  We have chosen to capture these as uncompressed TIFF files, although we haven’t ruled out JPEG 2000 as an option for future digitisation. JPEG 2000 has a number of advantages, including smaller file sizes meaning lower storage and network costs, but disadvantages in that compression is used (either lossless or lossy) and there is less available, affordable, software for compression and decompression. Indeed, one of the reasons we haven’t started by using JPEG 2000 is due to this ‘implementation’ factor discussed above (at the moment we don’t have the right tools to create and view images as JPEG 2000 ).

Preview article for Linda Smith Stand-up in Bradford, 1987

Preview article for Linda Smith Stand-up in Bradford, 1987

Poster advertising Linda Smith Stand-Up Show at the Riverside Studios on March 25th as part of 'Shelter presents the Full House Club'.

Poster advertising Linda Smith Stand-Up Show at the Riverside Studios on March 25th as part of ‘Shelter presents the Full House Club’.










This week we will begin digitising audio-visual material, beginning with audio cassette tapes.  We will be capturing these as LPCM wav files, the format recommended as the archival master for reformatting audio, and provide access using mp3 files.

We are still deliberating over the format that we use for capture and storage of moving image material, primarily held on VHS in our current collections. Unlike with audio and images there is no agreed archival standard (nor one codec/wrapper combination that is being used by many archives); indeed many large archives around the world use different formats.  I’m grateful that we have been able to seek advice from colleagues at The National Archives, the British Library, and the Austrian Mediathek, on their choice of format, and we should make a decision on this (taking into consideration the issues discussed above) within the next month.

I’ve also been spending time investigating tools we could use as part of digital preservation and digital asset management, including tools for ensuring data integrity (checksum tools) and for embedding metadata into files, including BWF Metaedit, which was created by the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative (FADGI) and AV Preserve.

This is just an overview, and I aim to provide more detailed updates about our choices, and the tools we are using, over the coming months.  In the meantime, here are some of the links/reading that I’ve found useful between January and March!





Tools we’ve been trying:

  • BWF Metaedit – for embedding metadata into wave files
  • DROID – The National Archives’ tool for profiling file types and creating hash sums (checksums)
  • Blackbush – a checksum tool generating MD5 hash files developed for the British Library’s Sound Archive