It’s seriously funny business – academia and comedy come together to debate the big issues

April 25th, 2016

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, organised by Nottingham graduate Kirstie MacDonald.

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!”

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 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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