Children across Leicester are honing their budding comic skills and learning that being a comedian is not just for grown-ups.
De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) is involved in injecting a little humour into school timetables as part of this year's Leicester Comedy Festival.
#DMUlocal, which runs projects to support communities across Leicester, is heading up two schemes to give primary and secondary school children a crash course in comedy skills.
Who will be this year's funniest school in Leicester? Mayflower Primary School currently holds the title
Josh Hargreaves, #DMUlocal Public Engagement Officer, said bringing laughter into lessons was proving to be a success as children were discovering hidden comedy talents.
He said: “The children absolutely love it, they get the chance to say and do what they like, they are in control and can show their creativity.
“They are learning about old-fashioned humour and nice simple slapstick comedy.
“It’s so great to see them enjoying themselves so much; children have a natural funniness about them so they are coming out with some great jokes.
“They are improving their confidence, communication and presentation skills, but most of all, just having great fun.”
The 'Loving Laughing' project has seen comic poet Rob Gee and DMU student volunteers paying weekly visits to five primary schools for the last couple of months. The youngsters, aged from 9 to 11, have been taught about stand-up, comic scenarios and how to put together comedy sketches.
Participating schools are Mayflower Primary, Shaftesbury Junior, Hazel Community Primary, Holy Cross Catholic Primary and Kestrels Field Primary.
These schools will enter their comedy sketches and stand-up routines into a showcase, hosted by Rob Gee and Elaine Pantling, at The Y Theatre on Wednesday, February 7 at 12.30pm. They will be trying to impress a panel of judges in order to be crowned ‘the funniest school in Leicester’. Mayflower Primary School clinched the title last year.
The children are also included in a video alongside DMU international students telling their favourite jokes in their own languages. Jokes will be told in Italian, Greek, Lithuanian and Punjabi, to name but a few of the languages. The video will go love online on Wednesday, February 7.
For the first time, this year’s festival also includes a Laugh-Term Comedy School, which will be open to 13 to 18-year-olds every day during the half-term holiday.
Professional comedians will lead the classes at Moat Community College, which will run from February 12 to 16, and will include training in basic live comedy performance skills such as improvised comedy, stand up and sketches.
Places at the Laugh-Term Comedy School cost £25 for the week and students involved will ‘graduate’ with a live performance at Moat Community College from 7.30pm on February 16.
Mayflower Primary School will be competing in the 'Loving Laughing' schools showdown at The Y Theatre
The #DMULocal programme continues to help create positive change across the city by engaging people in a huge number of projects and activities.
Many of the city’s children have never been involved in the festival before so they are looking forward to being part of the event. It is hoped that some children could even go on to consider comedy as a potential profession and be the stars of future comedy festivals.
Josh added: “We are reaching out to a wider community to get everyone involved in the comedy festival.
“These are unique and exciting opportunities for young people to develop their skills and to prove comedy is for any age.”
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Geoff Rowe, director and founder of the Leicester Festival Comedy, said there was an increasing interest amongst young people to learn more about comedy performance.
He said: “It’s great how the whole community gets behind the festival. So many people get involved and support what we do.
“We are proud of our community work as we continually work to ensure comedy is embedded in the DNA of Leicester. The festival is a Leicester-wide celebration.”
DMU is the higher education partner of the Leicester Comedy Festival and has been heavily involved since its inception in 1994.
For tickets to either the primary or secondary school comedy showdowns, or to book a place at the Laugh-Term Comedy School, visit the Leicester Comedy Festival website.
Posted on Monday 5th February 2018