#DMUlocal programme finds Leicester's funniest school

Children from primary schools across Leicester have performed at the city’s oldest theatre as part of Leicester Comedy Festival.

De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has been running comedy workshops at schools through #DMUlocal, which culminated with four schools performing their favourite comedy routines on stage at the Y Theatre on Wednesday.

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Groups of children from Hazel Primary School, Mayflower Primary School, Kestrel’s Field Primary School and Shaftesbury School all acted out comedy sketches in front of a packed audience at the ‘Loving Laughing’ event.

More than 70 children took to the stage in small groups, putting into practice what they’d learned from professional comedians during workshops organised by #DMUlocal.

The panel of three judges said that the standard of comedy was extremely high but they eventually named Hazel Primary as Leicester’s funniest school.

Mrs Maxwell, Assistant Head of Hazel Primary School, said the children were ‘over the moon’ to have won the competition and believes the whole experience will benefit their confidence.

She said: “I think it’s really great to give our children the opportunity to experience live performances to understand how to get themselves heard and perform in front of a live audience.

“They’ve had a great time. From when they did a workshop with the comedian they’ve been working on the tips they had from him and then they’ve come up with the sketches themselves.”

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Rob Gee was one of two comedians who visited the schools over the last few months and he also compered Wednesday’s event. Considering most of the schools had only had a half-day comedy session, he thought the performances of the children were ‘brilliant’.

He said: “It’s been really nice to see, the kids will always deliver. They have a unique angle on comedy, there’s a love of slapstick and a delight for anything that’s remotely puerile.

“To see them actually take that kind of stuff but stage craft it and deliver some really great performances is fabulous. The teamwork skills that we saw were really quite impressive, their ability to improvise and cooperate with each other was great.”

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#DMUlocal has helped to get local schools involved in the project by coordinating visits from experienced comedians. Public engagement officer Josh Hargreaves was also one of the three judges who picked Hazel Primary School as winners, but he insisted that it was difficult to pick out a single performance.

He explained: “The standard of comedy was very high, we were all very surprised by how high the stakes were so it was a very hard decision to come to in the end.

“All of the kids did amazing in their own way but the one that pipped them to the post had a lot of audience participation, which is crucial in comedy, and I think the audience enjoyed the winners as well.”

Josh also believes that taking part in the competition will bring a range of benefits to the children.

He added: “The teachers have told us that the children have grown a lot in confidence and they are getting to be part of a massive festival in the city and do something that they might not necessarily get the chance to do otherwise.”

Posted on Thursday 8th February 2018

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