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University to take a look behind the jokes


Comedians, psychologists and academics are set to delve behind the scenes of the comedy industry as part of a new festival in Wolverhampton.

The University of Wolverhampton’s Chancellor’s Hall will host the Beyond a Joke seminars, part of the Funny Things comedy festival.

The seminars, on 3-4 November 2017, will look at issues including what is the psychology of humour and how can it affect our well-being? What is specific about Black Country humour? And, what role does faith have in comedy?

Four sessions over two days will look at, dissect and offer discussion around all things funny.

Details of the events:

Friday 3 November

11.30am – 1pm MAKE ME LAUGH
with Brett Mills, University of East Anglia

The ‘Make Me Laugh’ project followed members of British TV’s comedy industry for 3 years, to find out how they do their jobs, what gets in the way, and how programmes get made. This session will give you insights into the machinations of the industry, and how those who work in it survive. What do they have to go through in order to make you laugh?  Part of the Beyond A Joke series. 


with Tracey Platt, University of Wolverhampton

Ask a layperson if they have a “good sense of humour”, and they will often report in the affirmative, with more than 90% claiming theirs is “above” average. Yet, defining what a good sense of humour is, or more basically, what humour is, is an ongoing task for humour researchers. This talk will explore some of the roots of humour as an academic topic and how psychologists have defined the construct. However, I will argue that understanding the psychology of humour is not simply a historic artefact but that it is highly relevant in the 21st century and our technological world by showing some of the cutting edge work on how humour is being added to avatars. Knowledge found in studies of those who struggle to comprehend humour in social interactions to the point of fearing it, will also be highlighted. Finally, showing the positive impact humour has on our overall well-being.  Part of the Beyond A Joke series. 

Saturday 4 November

11am – 12.30pm RELIGION, FAITH & COMEDY
with Jo Enright, Bec Hill, Dr Sophie Quirk, David Wright & Yusuf Shafi

What are the roles of comedy in shaping discussions about religion?  What are the relationships between comedy, religion and free speech?  How far is too far for religious comedy?  These questions are more will be hotly debated by a panel of comedians, public figures and academics.  Part of the Beyond A Joke series.

with Gwendolen Powell, Josiane Boutonnet, Dr Brian Dakin, Brendan Hawthorne, David Tristram & Kate Fox

The Funny Things Comedy Festival has been set up to celebrate the great tradition of comedy & humour across the Black Country.  This inaugural festival contains many local performers and comedians showcasing their work, alongside guests from across the UK.  But are there things that make the Black Country’s sense of humour distinct and different from humour elsewhere across the UK?  This panel discussion will explore this using examples such as the character Dooren and the Boonyeds. 

Chair of the panel is regular BBC contributor Kate Fox who has made a living as a stand-up poet for ten years and has just completed a research study into class, gender, Northern-ness and solo stand-up performance.

The Beyond a Joke seminars have been produced in collaboration with Big Difference Company.

The full line-up can be seen by visiting

Further information

Twitter: @FunnyThingsBC / #FunnyThings

Funny Things Online brochure:

Funny Things is a Creative Black Country project supported by Arts Council England, City of Wolverhampton Council, Accord Housing, Zuri Coffee and FCB Manby Fowler.

Partner venues include Wolves Civic (The Civic, Wulfrun Hall, Slade Rooms), Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Arena Theatre, Lighthouse Cinema, The Grand Theatre, Newhampton Arts Centre, Molineux Stadium, University of Wolverhampton, Bantock House, The Lych Gate Tavern, The Gifford Arms, The Outback, Zuri Coffee and Windsor Toys.



For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

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