The British Stand-Up Comedy Archive at the University of Kent was established in 2013 to celebrate, preserve, and provide access to the archives and records of British stand-up comedy and stand-up comedians. The inspiration for the establishment of this archive was the deposit at the University of the personal archive of the comedian Linda Smith (1958-2006). Other early deposits were from Tony Allen, a pioneer of alternative comedy, Mark Thomas, comedian and political activist, and John Pidgeon, journalist and producer of music and comedy radio programmes. The collections contain audio visual recordings (both off-air recordings and recordings of live events), scripts, publicity material, photographs, press, correspondence, and props.
The archive was established by the University of Kent’s Special Collections & Archives and with Dr Oliver Double and the Department of Drama and Theatre at the University of Kent, which runs a Stand-Up Comedy MA programme and an Introduction to Stand-Up module as part of its BA Drama.
In 2014 the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive (BSUCA) became one of the University of Kent’s Beacon Projects. The project organised the public launch of the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive, catalogued, digitised, and made accessible the existing collections, and identified new relevant collections. The BSUCA Beacon Project also included a series of public events during 2015 and 2016, including the inaugural Linda Smith lecture, a series of ‘in conversation’ events with Olly Double, and a conference in January 2016. Further information is available on the events page of this blog.
The BSUCA Beacon project was led by Dr Nick Hiley (Head of Special Collections & Archives at the University of Kent) and Dr Oliver Double (Deputy Head of the School of Arts at the University of Kent, and former professional stand-up comedian). The British Stand-Up Comedy Archive project team were:
- Dr Nick Hiley (Project leader)
- Dr Oliver Double (Project leader)
- Elspeth Millar (Project Archivist)
- Errin Hussey (Digitisation and Data Entry Assistant)
- Matt Wilson (Digital Imaging)
- Tory Gillespie (Conference facilitator)
The British Stand-Up Comedy Archive is now cared for by Special Collections & Archives, and is managed by a matrix team which includes members of the University’s Special Collections & Archives, Digital Curation & Metadata, and Digital Imaging teams. You can search the collections at http://archive.kent.ac.uk.
For more information about the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Our blog and twitter header images are from a 1989 photo shoot with Mark Thomas and Linda Smith and used to promote the ‘Gift of the gag’ tour, 1990. Photo courtesy of Steve Double.