‘Funny Bones’ to explore the portrayal of disability in comedy

University_of_LeicesterFree public debate to take place at Embrace Arts, the University of Leicester’s arts centre on Sunday 23 February at 3pm

Members of the public will be given an insight into the representation of disability through the medium of comedy in ‘Funny Bones’, a free lecture to take place on Sunday 23 February between 3pm and 4pm at the University of Leicester’s Embrace Arts Centre.

The seminar is part of the Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival, and will discuss whether changes in governmental policy making disability issues in comedy more political and whether comedians should become central to rights campaigning.

Dr Anna Claydon from the University of Leicester’s Department of Media and Communication, who is working with Embrace Arts on this debate said: “It is important to discuss the representation of disability in comedy because comedy is the great mediator of social issues. If something is worthwhile discussing, questioning and challenging ideas about, comedy will be doing it before practically any other art form.”

The Department of Media and Communication at the University of Leicester, through the IDeoGRAMS research group, has been working on disability research for the past few years. The lecture follows-up on its ESRC Festival of Social Science conference from 2012, with the intention of building social connections and moving communication with stakeholders in disability issues from a local to a national context.

Dr Claydon’s work is interested in modes of representation and the questioning of those representations by producers and consumers. The team has been working on the pre- and post-Paralympics representation of disability on UK TV and Dr Claydon has an article coming out later this year on the Channel 4 comedy series ‘Cast Offs’.

She said: “We want to really open up some debates on how disability-related policies are feeding into comedy but also to ask questions about how people respond to disability through comedy. The idea is that the panel will be opening up the debate but that everyone there will feel able to participate.”

The debate, which will be chaired by comedian Gareth Berliner, will discuss the experiences and aspirations of D/deaf and disabled comedians, the comedy industry and the media. As well as Dr Claydon, the panel will also include blogger and MS activist Julie Howell and well-known comedian Alex Brooker from Channel 4’s ‘The Last Leg’ and ‘The Jump’.

Louisa Milburn, co-director at Embrace Arts added: “Embrace Arts strives to make sure everyone has the opportunity to participate in the arts. The comedy festival is a well-established part of this, giving audiences the chance to laugh and share the joy of different points of view.

“This event will take things an important step further; not only ensuring that comedians with disabilities have more opportunities to perform but also promoting the dialogue around disability and establishing strong links with people towards future projects beyond the limits of University walls.”

‘Funny Bones’ takes place at the University of Leicester’s Embrace Arts Centre on Sunday 23 February between 3pm – 4pm. The event is free and open to the public, and is appropriate for 14+ years. Book your place here.

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