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Leicester Comedy Festival and DMU launch PhD exploring diversity in comedy


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De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has teamed up with Leicester Comedy Festival to offer a new three-year PhD scholarship exploring the barriers to representation in stand-up comedy.

The funding has been awarded in light of the almost three decades of history of the Leicester Comedy Festival, as well as factors such as the Black Lives Matter and #metoo campaigns.  

Comedy Fest

The researcher will work with the festival team and interview stakeholders, comedians, other producers and people working within the live comedy industry across the UK. The programme - details of which can be found here - will be supervised by DMU’s Dr Louise Peacock and Dr Jennie Jordan.

They will have access to the festival’s archive which was recently donated to DMU, where they will research how diversity in live comedy has changed since 1994. They will then work with the festival’s leadership team to identify how it can improve equitable access to work in live comedy on stage and behind the scenes.

The research programme will explore questions linked to access to performance, including how producers and curators of stand-up comedy can work to increase diversity within comedy.

The funding has been awarded in light of the almost three decades of history of the Leicester Comedy Festival, as well as factors such as the Black Lives Matter and #metoo campaigns.  In 2020, 34% of LCF’s solo stand-up comedians were women, and there is no data recorded for comedians of colour or dis/ability, a gap this research aims to fill.

The researcher will work with the festival team and interview stakeholders, comedians, other producers and people working within the live comedy industry across the UK.  The programme will be supervised by Dr Louise Peacock and Dr Jennie Jordan, both from De Montfort University.

Geoff Rowe, Leicester Comedy Festival Founding Director, said: “I’m enormously proud of the work we have done over the years at trying to make our festival as inclusive as possible.  People tell us that we have done some good things but I’m certain there is more we can do and this is an amazing opportunity for us to work closely with De Montfort University, over three years, to explore issues involved in both our festival but also the wider UK live comedy scene.  I’d encourage anyone who has an interest in inclusion and diversity, and UK comedy, to get in touch if they want to apply for the scholarship.”

Dr Jennie Jordan and Dr Louise Peacock said: “We are delighted to be able to offer this prestigious scholarship to research an essential topic. Leicester Comedy Festival and De Montfort University are both committed to reducing barriers to equalities in the creative and cultural industries, and this PhD research will make a valuable contribution in understanding what those hurdles are”.

The successful candidate will study for a PhD funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)’s Midlands4 Cities programme.

Posted on Tuesday 19th October 2021

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