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Comedy students reach finals of national contest

Thursday 24 May 2018

A PAIR of comedy students from the University of Salford have made it into the finals of a major national competition.

James Allen and Bexie Archer, both in their final year studying Comedy Writing and Performance,have been shortlisted for the Chortle Student Comedy Awards.

They will both now go on to perform at the Latitude Festival in July before the winner is chosen at the finals held at the Edinburgh Festival in August.

Dr Richard Talbot, Senior Lecturer in Performance at the University, said: “The Chortle Student Comedy Awards is the most prestigious competition of its kind, and to have two students in the finals is unprecedented.”

The pair have been performing at comedy venues while studying for their degrees and have a growing following.

James blends a wry mix of geek revenge and perceptive social satire with an encyclopaedic knowledge of football statistics.

He has also been shortlisted for the University’s own Mike Craig Comedy Award, named after the BBC scriptwriter and producer who wrote for Morecambe and Wise, Ken Dodd and Les Dawson, and whose scripts were donated to a special archive at the University following his death in 2010.

The winner of the Mike Craig award, given to the most promising comedy students each year,will be announced at the Comedy Showcase at the University’s New Adelphi Studio on Tuesday May 29, after which the students will showcase their work at Manchester’s Frog And Bucket comedy venue at an event attended by BBC Comedy Producer Rebecca Papworth.

Bexie, who originally studied acting at RADA, creates eccentric personalities and sometimes appears on stage dressed in bizarre costumes – from a Christmas tree to a giant condom to a very hairy and cheeky clown.

Her performances, inspired by her actor training, often tread a fine line between deadpan and the comedy of awkwardness.

Both have been taught on the course’s stand up module by Kate McCabe, a professional comedian who originally performed in New York City and is now a member of the North West based improv group Comedy Sportz.

Training ground for comic talent

The University set up the first Stand Up Comedy module to be taught in higher education in England in 1992, teaching students about everything from farce and improvisation to using comedy as a political tool, and going on to produce such names as Peter Kay, Jason Manford and Steve Edge.

Dr Talbot added: “These are two very talented comics and they are a credit to the teaching staff here at Salford. I hope this will provide a platform for them both to build a national platform as professional comedians, and I want to wish them both the best of luck.”

Go here to buy tickets to the Chortle Student Comedy Awards final, held at Pleasance One at the Edinburgh Fringe on August 13.