Monday, 10 November 2008

Happy Birthday Comedy School

Victoria from The Comedy School came in to teach today. They're doing five days of development work, with the Applied Theatre students looking at the potential to use stand up comedy in community drama projects.

It was a busy day for the company as in the evening they celebrated their tenth anniversary with a fantastic gala show at the beautiful Hackney Empire. Keith and his team have done remarkable work over the last decade running workshops, training programmes and productions using comedy with and for some of London's most vulnerable people. In the process they've worked in prisons, the youth service, with exclusion and crime reductions units and in the mental health service.

Tonight The School's many supporters came to show their appreciation. Phil Jupitus, Neil Mullarky, Suki Webster, Arthur Smith, Arnold Brown, Felix Dexter, Josie Lawrence and the fabulous Nina Conti all performed brief sets.

Alongside the professional comedians a string of young talent, gospel singers, rap artists and stand ups, all nurtured by the school, got their five minutes on stage.

The Empire is an incredible jewel of a space - with a fantastic and busy bar at the back of the auditorium - it's fitting that ten years of energy and commitment to using drama as a social force for good should culminate in the regenerated community venue.

I couldn't stay to the end - last trains etc - but everybody was having such a good time, lapping up the good times, that things were running ridiculously over. When I phoned Keith first thing Tuesday morning to congratulate him he told me sorry stories of having to beg Phil Jupitus not to go back on with his performance poetry at 2am!!!

Well done Keith. Here's to the next ten years!

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