Student perspective – using the Stand-Up Comedy Archive

The University of Kent has a history of teaching comic performance and provides a number of opportunities for students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level to study the theory and practice of stand-up comedy. We think it is fantastic that the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive is based within a context in which students themselves are studying and performing comedy, and we hope that the archive will inspire performance as well as record it.  Thank you to Yolanda Cooper for writing the first of our ‘student perspectives’ on using some of the audio-visual material within the collections.

Yolanda Cooper writes:

As a third year Stand-Up comedy student, I was given the humbling opportunity this week to work with a fantastic, rare clip by the hilarious Mark Thomas from his ‘It’s the Stupid Economy’ tour. My task was to listen to the clip (recorded in Sheffield in 2009) – a treat in itself due to the small collection of people who have had the opportunity – and select a section to analyse contextually.

CD from the Mark Thomas Collection of a recording from the Sheffield leg of his 2009 'It's the Stupid Economy' tour

Making the decision as to which part was my favourite proved a hard and perilous task after listening. (It was all hilarious!)  Along with Thomas and his audience I agree that perhaps we should change our anthem to ‘Gold’ by Spandau Ballet and that we [Britain] are in seriously financial trouble when Primark has a sale! Consequently, not only was I able to laugh out loud at the comical truths of our nation that Thomas describes, but his witty political satire charged the realisation that we as Brits don’t say what we think.

After analysing the chosen segment, my group and I presented to the class our findings and research regarding the context of the specific jokes. Luckily for us the show was performed in 2009, so the political references he was making were still relatable to our generation!

This was just the beginning of my exploration through the archive, which is an exciting platform for students and the public alike to investigate further rare comedic material. Not only did Thomas’ clip make me laugh, it also inspired me, an occurrence that wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for the Stand-Up Comedy Archive.