Using comedy
for a serious purpose


Laughing Matters originally started life as a project to come up with a new social enterprise at the University of Nottingham in 2012. After linking the positivity and joy that comedy can bring to many of the problems faced by some individuals the decision was made to develop comedy based workshops to groups who may benefit. 

Fast forward to May 2013 and the first Laughing Matters Pilot featuring participants with past experiences of substance misuse took place. The course provided an opportunity for individuals to gain insights into areas such as writing, developing creativity, communicating effectively and stage presence and all in a fun environment.

What struck a chord most was the fact that so many people were willing to give the course a go. Ask most people if they could write and perform their own comedy material in front of an audience in as little as four weeks and they would run a mile. However, we found that in the right safe and supportive environment people are willing to open up, speak up, and have fun. Participants also developed a real sense of achievement from their work, something that can benefit them in other areas of their life.


Case Study

Graham St Quintin of Nottingham was among the participants on the pilot Laughing Matters workshop course and first heard about it via the alcohol and drug recovery charity Double Impact, where he was a service user and most recently a volunteer.

“The Laughing Matters course helped me to take the next step. I had reached a point where I was in a really comfortable recovery ‘bubble’ and I needed an impetus to start moving forward again.”

It was with some trepidation that he attended the course, and was particularly wary of the final performance. With the guidance of professional comedian Sam Avery he identified material taken from his personal experiences and settled on a strategy for his performance style, a storytelling approach based on his favourite types of stand-up comic such as Stuart Lee and Richard Herring. When the final performance arrived, attended by his supportive wife Angela, he felt his fears melt away and was able to deliver an assured routine.

He concluded: “The workshops were great fun and while the performance at the end was a little nerve wracking it’s something that I am incredibly proud to have achieved. I’ve seen a lasting benefit from it too and it has expanded my comfort zone. The experience has helped me in other situations which also demand an element of performance, for example a recent job interview.”



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