Comedians are full of praise for De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students who are helping to take the pressure off them before their gigs.
Arts and Festivals Management students are currently hard at work managing two venues at this year’s Leicester Comedy Festival.
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Arts and Festivals Management students Ploy Arkart, Joanna Szawerda and Holly Taylor with comedians Alasdair Beckett-King, Chris Norton-Walker and Tez Ilays
This includes looking after popular comedians and taking care of their needs before they go on stage at more than 50 shows over the 19-day festival.
The 35 students are working in small teams to make sure everything is in place for all comedy events at the Cosy Club, Highcross Street, and Peter’s Pizzeria, Welford Place.
As well as artist liaison, the first-year students are responsible for front of house, selling and collecting tickets at the box office, and ensuring the venue’s health and safety.
Comedian Alasdair Beckett-King, who won the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year in 2017, said it had been ‘extremely useful’ to have DMU students backstage as they were ‘a great help.’
He said: “One of the most stressful things about doing a show is the running around making sure everything is ready. There is always lots to do as you have to check everything technical works.
“But with the students helping, things don’t seem to be as stressful. They have really made things easier for me.
“Knowing they are there really takes the pressure off and when you are feeling relaxed, it is easier to be funnier and perform better comedy.”
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DMU student Shay Sobers working alongside comedian Alasdair Beckett-King
Comedian and DMU graduate Chris Norton-Walker, who has performed all over the world, said: “It’s great to have the students helping us out backstage. We can trust them to help us with anything we need.
“It’s not unusual to get to some gigs and have to do everything yourself so having dedicated helpers to assist you is much appreciated.
“The students have been so nice and friendly; I’m looking forward to continuing to work with them.”
Festival organisers have handed over the reins to the students as part of a unique partnership between DMU and the comedy festival, which was set up by DMU students as part of their course 25 years ago.
The students’ comedy festival work is assessed as part of their degree and they work under the guidance of Tony Graves, Head of Arts and Festival Management.
They work day and night to cover festival events at the venues, which will give them crucial employability skills for their future careers.
They kicked off the festival on February 7 by working at two events at two venues. They were behind the scenes at the Alasdair Beckett-King gig at the Cosy Club and First Night Funnies, featuring four comedians, at Peter’s Pizzeria.
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Students Emily Rance and Daisy Schofield working the box office at the Cosy Club
Student Shay Sobers, 21, was working in artist liaison at the Cosy Club. She had contacted Alasdair in advance and spent a couple of hours with him before the gig.
She said: “I’ve been taking care of the comedian, doing the sound-check with him and making sure he had a meal and drinks.
“It’s an important job because I’ve had to make sure everything was running smoothly.
“It’s the first time we’ve done anything like this, but it’s really exciting and great professional experience.”
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Student Holly Taylor, 20, was working in artist liaison and helping with the technical requirements at Peter’s Pizzeria.
She said: “The comedians have been lovely, really easy going and happy to work with us.
“It’s been a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to helping with the rest of the festival.”
Student Joanna Szawerda, 21, who was also working at Peter’s Pizzeria, added: “I was a little nervous at first about working so closely with the comedians, but it’s been great and I’m now feeling more confident about future events.
“It’s a really good feeling, knowing we are here to help.”
The students have also been involved in promoting comedy gigs and evaluating the success of each event by analysing audience feedback forms.
DMU is the festival’s Higher Education Partner. For more information about Leicester Comedy Festival or tickets, visit the website.
Posted on Monday 12th February 2018