Did you know that stand-up comedy is massive in the UK? It’s just what it sounds like – the comedian stands up in front of the audience and tries to make them laugh, with varying degrees of success. Last month a group of students checked out English Comedy 4U, a new stand-up comedy night aimed especially at learners of English.
Stand-up is going from strength to strength and over the last few years has become pretty mainstream. In fact these days comedy shows on TV are often based more on stand-up routines than sketch shows or sitcoms. Check out Mock the Week, Stand Up for the Week, and Live at the Apollo for some examples, although for my money these shows are not a patch on going to see live comedy.
However, if English isn’t your first language, going to see stand-up can leave you feeling a bit baffled. This is why a group of comedians who teach English as their day job have got together to organize the English Comedy 4U night, for intermediate and advanced students, at The Square Pig pub in Holborn.
So how was the night itself? Generally the same as any stand-up show – just at a slower pace, and with lots of jokes about the funny situations that arise in the English language classroom. The bit that really had the audience in stitches was when the compere - that’s the comedian who warms up the audience and introduces all the other acts - interrupted a comic sketch set in a classroom by bursting in pretending to be a student who was late, and proceeded to do all the annoying things that late students tend to do. It probably doesn’t sound that funny on paper so I guess you really had to be there!
Anyway, if you want to do something very, very British, practise your English and have a laugh at the same time, you should definitely come along. At just £5 the event is a bargain! A word of warning though, if you turn up this week, Wednesday 15th August, make sure you arrive in plenty of time! The show starts at 8pm. Last month some latecomers had to be turned away as the show was so popular. Another reason to come early is that the acts often make fun of latecomers and the people sitting in the front couple of rows. Unlike other performances, the front rows are the least in demand because people are worried about getting picked on, although for others this is part of the fun! Sometimes audience members give as good as they get by heckling - this is when they shout rude comments to the comedian. The mark of an experienced comedian is the ability to respond to heckles with witty put-downs.
I know that quite a few of you from The London School went to the night, so I’d really appreciate your comments and feedback on it. Hope to see some of you there!
to go from strength to strength (exp.) – to become increasingly better and/or more popular
pretty (adv.) – quite
mainstream (adj.) – normal, usual
sketch show (n.) – a comedy show featuring lots of different short scenes
sitcom (n.) – a comedy drama show about the same set of characters e.g. Friends
for my money (exp.) – in my opinion
not a patch on –ing (exp.) – not nearly as good as
baffled (adj.) – confused
oversubscribed (adj.) – so popular that not everyone who wants to can take part
pace (n.) – speed
arise (intransitive v.) – happen
to have someone in stitches (exp.) – to make someone laugh a lot
warm up (phr.v.) – prepare or introduce
burst in (phr.v.) – enter suddenly
you really had to be there (exp.) – used when a funny situation doesn’t sound funny when you tell someone about it after
on paper (exp.) – in written or printed form
latecomer (n.) – someone who arrives late
turn away (phr.v.) – not allow someone to enter
make fun of (exp.) – make jokes about
row (n.) – a line of seats e.g. in a cinema or theatre
pick on (phr.v.) – make jokes about
give as good as you get (exp.) – to respond to someone making jokes about you by making jokes about them
heckle (v.) – when members of the audience shout rude comments at a live performer
witty (adj.) – funny and clever
put-down (n.) - when someone makes fun of you and you respond with a comment which makes their comment look stupid
Categories: British Culture