‘For people who enjoy making people laugh’: An interview with Lancaster Comedy Institute
‘It’s a pretty effective way of making people happy, and who doesn’t want to do that?’
The never-ending piles of work that we’re all facing, with the combination of Lent term and corona restrictions, has a lot of people down in the dumps to say the least. Whether as a performer or a member of the audience, Lancaster University Comedy Institute is the perfect place to either provide or receive some light relief, trying to prove that, even in the middle of a pandemic, laughter really is the best medicine.
With no limits at all on who can join, the club is truly open to anyone and everyone. We wanted to know what life is like in the Comedy Institute and how, as a society based on performance, they’ve coped with lockdown.
“It’s a society that was made for people to have a good time”
Lancaster Comedy Institute told us that the society “was created for people who, in short, enjoy making people laugh. It’s a pretty effective way at making people happy, and who doesn’t want to do that? It’s both a society for people who want to grow into skilled performers, as well as people who would rather work more behind the scenes.”
The weekly schedule ensures there’s something to get involved with most nights of the week, they said: “Our stand-up meetings are twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays 6-8pm, General Meetings are Fridays 6-8pm, and we have podcast recordings most weekends! The general meetings are a good place to start with the society”.
“We have a familial feel”
As with most societies during Covid times, the Comedy Institute have moved performances onto Teams, including collaborations with other societies. They told us: “We held our most recent performance with Defying Dementia… which was a big success for both societies. We’ve also proven this year that sketch comedy can work when recorded and edited together, rather than in person.”
The society has made an active effort to maintain engagement over the last two, more isolated, terms. They said they wanted to maintain “a reliable, even familial feel about the society – we see each other often… so we don’t hate one another. We hold games nights, quiz nights, group viewings of films, and other bits and pieces.”
“We are big proponents of lifetime memberships at LUCI”
Current membership of the Comedy Institute has, like most other societies, suffered because of the pandemic, however the club states that: “We’ve got a healthy group of currently active members” which they expect will “bounce back up when we’re all able to see each other in person”.
The society prides itself on making a conscious effort to keep you involved for as long as possible, even after graduation, giving you a platform to return to for life. They said: “Where a member is leaving the uni for whatever reason, the exec grant that person membership forever – you do need the time ingredient alongside the tragedy to make comedy, as the verified equation outlines.”
“People will be itching for a night out”
The society acknowledges the importance of an in-person recruitment process, particularly for a society based on performing, but is confident that “Fresher’s next year is going to be massive for us… people will be itching for nights out.”
These nights out won’t be limited to campus and are crucial for both membership and experience. They said: “Pubs and places will be looking for live acts to draw in customers to get business… truly up and running again. The more shows we do, the more we as a society get our faces out there… the more likely we are to then find a message in our inbox.”
“People should get involved, no matter their level”
Performing in front of a crowd, no matter the size, is a daunting prospect for many. The society emphasises that “there is no pressure to perform – the decision to do so is yours, for when you feel ready to. People should get involved then if they want to perform, no matter their level, nor the style or kind of comedy they’re interested in.”
The club is also open to those less keen on performing, stating that: “If you’re interested in the technical side of gigs instead, you’ll be able to help us out with sound, recording, and so on.”
They emphasise that the club is open and welcome to anyone who “just enjoys a laugh, really.”
“It may encourage more virtual society collaborations and a stronger supportive network”
The university has been largely unable to support the society this year, given that it revolves around performing and “the uni can’t exactly provide us a big coronavirus proof bubble to perform in.”
The Comedy Institute, while they do have some contact with the union regarding online Fresher’s, explained that: “It would be good to have some sort of schedule for all its performing societies to have performances or virtual open mic nights… then advertising it to a larger group of people across different societies.
“There could be a week of different shows, with people choosing which ones to attend or having a taste of all of them. This would garner some good coverage and attention. It may encourage more virtual society collaborations and a stronger supportive network.”