It's seriously funny business - academia and comedy come together to debate the big issues

 seriously funny biz445
21 Apr 2016 16:53:20.843

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Academics from The University of Nottingham are joining together with some of the UK’s most popular stand-up comedians to debate society’s topical issues in a series of shows at Nottingham Lakeside Arts.

In ‘Seriously Funny Business’, academics will have the opportunity to discuss how their individual areas of research may impact on society, making their research more accessible to a broader audience. Audience members will also have the opportunity for questions at the end of each session.

The events have been organised by Nottingham graduate Kirstie MacDonald.

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Laughter is the best medicine

The shows will be introduced and moderated by professional comedians Simon Evans and Lucy Porter, who both regularly appear on Radio 4 and TV panel shows. The two events will include Professors Laurie Cohen and Jim Devlin from Nottingham University Business School, Professor Tom Dening from the Institute of Mental Health, Professor Gary Winship from the School of Education and Assistant Pro Vice Chancellor Marion Walker MBE.

Starting the ball rolling on Tuesday 3 May (7.30pm – 9.30pm) are Professors Devlin and Cohen who will be discussing trust, gender and innovation in the world of finance.

Professor Cohen said: “The real value of an event like ‘Seriously Funny Business’ is that it will provide a forum for discussing issues in an open way, for taking a critical look at what we do, why we do it this way and how we might do it differently. My expectation is that there will be some pretty lively disagreement on some of the issues raised and where we might go from here (not least amongst the panel members). This is what I’m hoping, anyway. If I come away from the evening with some new ways of thinking about things, I will consider it a success!”

Professor Devlin added: “I look forward to taking part in Seriously Funny Business and hope that the insights that I can bring from my research as Director of the Centre for Risk, Banking and Financial Services, as well as other relevant studies, will help illuminate the debate and provide an informative and entertaining evening for all concerned.”

Developing future research

Academics from the School of Education and the Institute of Mental health will look at the arts and mental health in the next event on Thursday 5 May.

Professor Winship said: “Our recent research has provided preliminary evidence that stand-up comedy workshops can be have been effective in the process of recovery for people who have mental health problems (Barker & Winship, 2016). The Lakeside comedy event will be a chance to think about humour, comedy and laughter, and an opportunity to explore how we can develop more research in the future.”  

Professor Dening from the Institute of Mental Health said: “Our research in the Centre for Dementia at the Institute of Mental Health focuses on psychological interventions and social activities of various kinds that involve people with dementia. This includes the interface between dementia and the arts.

“Humour is an important coping strategy for people during tough times in their lives but it is also an important way of depicting serious issues that affect us all. It is also mixed up with sadness – expressions like “laugh, I could have cried” and “the tears of a clown” are commonplace. I think the event will encourage people to look at new potential ways of exploring mental health, perhaps helping people on their personal journeys to recovery, or else making people think about how sharing a laugh is really good medicine.”


Devised in conjunction with Nottingham’s very own ‘Just the Tonic’ comedy club, all profits will support a series of comedy based workshops to develop confidence and communication skills run by The Comedy Trust.

For more information or to register for an event visit the website.

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Our academics can now be interviewed for broadcast via our Media Hub, which offers a Globelynx fixed camera and ISDN line facilities at University Park campus. For further information please contact a member of the Communications team on +44 (0)115 951 5798, email or see the Globelynx website for how to register for this service.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a “distinct” approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China and Malaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.’ (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and the winner of ‘Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2015. It is ranked in the world’s top 75 by the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, and 8th in the UK by research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world’s greenest campus for three years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…


Story credits

More information is available from Kayleigh Chalcroft, Marketing Office  at Nottingham Lakeside Arts at, +44 (0)115
74 84155

Charlotte Anscombe – Media Relations Manager (Arts and Social Sciences)

Email:  Phone:+44 (0)115 74 84 417 Location: University Park

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