Comedy Class: Week 3

Week Three

Homework last week was to think of the person who annoys you most and what sentence sums that person up.  I am full of love at the moment so I am not really hating on anyone.  But one sentence does stick out that drives me mad.  ‘Don’t you know I am gluten free’.  You can also change gluten to vegetarian, vegan and the like.  Why would I know you are gluten free?  I’m not your personal chef?!

We all shared our hatred sentences.  Then in the voice of how the person would say it.  This was very fun.  We then had to think of how that person has sex.  Well, if you weren’t having fun before now you certainly were now.  It was wonderful to see how far people would go to describe the likely sex habits of the person who annoys you most.

As the classes are continuing you can see people develop in confidence and how they are slowly showing their comic style.  It is brilliant to see.  The three girls in the class are really supporting each other and enjoy doing group tasks together – which I love.  Pleased that we are ‘representing’!

The comedy class is taught be Kate Smurthwaite and is run by City Academy.

Sarah Southern

Comedy Class: Week 2

Week Two

Week two could not arrive soon enough for the comedy class.  Kate had set homework for us so it was difficult to avoid thinking about class during the week.  Homework is mainly short writing tasks.  As I said last time, comedy seems to be about writing non-stop.  All the time.  Getting ideas out there.

Week two in comedy class was all about status and dealing with the audience.  Despite the show case being weeks away the nerves of the performance are already showing in the class.  Kate ran us though some exercises in status and how being the higher status character can impact a situation.  It was super fun to do and great to see people’s personalities and humour coming out.  Also interesting to see who are the extroverts and who are the extroverts to the max!

We then moved onto hecklers.  Kate talked us though some of her heckler stories when doing live shows.  The class is worth doing alone to hear Kate’s tales of the stand up circuit and her life as a comedian.  It really is an insight into a very different life.

Heckling, it turns out, is super fun.  Each person had to get up and begin a set, whilst the rest of us hurl abuse.  Non-stop hurling of abuse.  It was brilliant to do.  There were no holds barred.  We all went for it and just kept hollering at the poor person trying to entertain us.  We used all the tricks of the trade that Kate had taught us but most of us could not get through the brutal abuse being hurled at it.  Kate assured us no crowd would ever be as mean as we were to each other.  So, that’s a relief.

The comedy class is taught be Kate Smurthwaite and is run by City Academy.

Sarah Southern



Comedy Class: Week 1

Comedy class: why do it?

Signing up to a comedy class might not seem the best New Year’s Resolution but it was mine. At the end of 2016 I started seeing a life coach to mainly to help me make the right decisions in my career but to also think about the wider choices I make in life.  I am lucky to have found Gill Thackray, who runs Koru Development, who is the perfect coach to bring the best out of you.  In our first session she set me a challenge that would take me out of my comfort zone.  She said I had to undertake a stand up comedy class.  I duly Googled comedy classes in London and found City Academy run a class with Kate Smurthwaite so I signed up and tried to get my funny on.

First day

I have never walked into an evening class where everyone is so open and friendly.  It was immediate hellos and chit chat that you don’t get when you under take a short course in marketing.  There are 12 of us in our cohort: 9 boys and 3 girls.  We start easy with saying who we are and why we have chosen to do the course.  It’s a real window into the soul and fascinating to hear people’s reasons and life stories.  It it a really fun group of people.  Just as well as we have six weeks of classes together followed by a live show case performance.  Even in week one questions are being asked about the show case.  Where will it be? Do most people normally turn up? What if we freeze?  It’s weeks away so best not worry about it.

Week one makes me realise comedy is all about writing stuff down.  All the time.  Kate gets us to write non-stop about us.  Just a list of words that are about you.  We then share them one or two with the group.  Amazingly, some of the words are actually very amusing whilst telling us so much about each other.  We then do a list of things that we hate.  The first thing that comes to mind is the f**king photocopier at work which reminds me I must stop using the damn thing to stop making myself so angry about it.

Kate then asks us to write two minutes non-stop about one of the things on our hate list.  We can’t let the pen stop moving, we just have to keep writing and writing.  We then have to share our scribble with the group.  Perhaps a little daunting for week one but no.  Kate makes up holler and whoop when each person steps up to perform.  She gives us a great comedy intro and acts as our hype girl.  No matter how brilliant or good someones performance was we all whooped away and supported each other.  The comradely was perfect even after a two hour class.

Week one complete.  It was a joy of an experience.  Can’t wait for week two.

The comedy class is taught be Kate Smurthwaite and is run by City Academy.

Sarah Southern

London Lates


Have you set yourself some tricky New Year resolutions? Perhaps doing Dry January?  Are you now at a loss as to what to fill your evenings with rather than the pub?  Fear not!  The amazing cultural institutions of London are ready for you with some London Lates.  The many museums and galleries have a great programme of activity to keep us all entertained for January and many are free.  Great news!

Here is a small selection of the many brilliant evening events that London museums and galleries are hosting.

National Gallery

Every Friday evening the National Gallery stays open until 9pm.  It is free to wander round the collection but you can buy a ticket for the current temporary exhibition, Australia’s Impressionists.  Tickets are £7.50 but free if you’re a member.  Friday 27 January sees a whole evening dedicated to the exhibition with a number of events, including live music, for Australia Late.

If you’d like to take a life drawing class you can on Friday 20 January.  Tickets available online. Alternatively you might want to learn more about Turner with a lecture from author Franny Moyle. If not, just take in the Gallery and enjoy.

Science Museum

Lates at the Science Museum have been very popular especially with the recent space focused events.  Our love for Tim Peake has been high, has it not.  Science Museum Lates are the last Wednesday in the month and January sees the focus on Childhood Wonder.   Entry is free but some events are ticketed including a silent disco and a comedy club.


Join the Tate on Friday 27 January for their Uniqlo Tate Lates, which are held on the last Friday of the month.  It promises to be a mix of art, film, music, talks and workshops. January’s Late will focus on Robert Rauschenberg with DJs playing until 11pm.  What sounds most intriguing is the Adventures in Sound and Silence with Professor Trevor Cox which promises to ‘trick your sound perception and fool your senses using a range of instruments’.

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum has their late on the last Friday of the month: 27 January.  The late is free and is a perfect opportunity to meet scientists and learn more about the Museum’s extensive collection.  Temporary exhibitions are open, this month you can see Wildlife Photographer of the Year – free to members and patrons!  Other Friday nights are taken up with different types of late: Crime Scene Live and Dino Snores for Grown Ups.  These are ticketed and sell out quick!

National Portrait Gallery

Every Thursday and Friday the National Portrait Gallery host the Late Shift between 6pm and 9pm.  This is a mix of classes, talks, music (including DJs), films and performances.  The temporary exhibitions stay open late too so you can enjoy them.  Entry is free with some events ticketed.

Sarah Southern

An Inspector Calls


An Inspector Calls must be a popular play for school students.  I guess a GCSE text.  The Thursday matinee awash with secondary children who did not look thrilled to be missing double maths on a Thursday afternoon.  The girl in front of me chose to sit on the floor throughout.  One can only assume so her teacher couldn’t spot her texting.  Either way, wonderful to see the stalls full of children seeing some great theatre.

An Inspector Calls is a classic play that was revived by the National Theatre in the 1990s to critical acclaim.  The play focuses on the Birling family, a well to do family who are enjoying dinner and celebrating the engagement of there daughter.  They are disturbed when an inspector calls.  The inspector informs them of a death of a young woman and believes she is known to the family.  It seems the family in their own way have had an association with the dead girl.

This revival is well worth seeing and is playing until 25 March.  Tickets available online.

Sarah Southern 


Nice Fish


Nice Fish is quite the play. Random. Gripping. Odd. Funny. Charming. It has it all. But I have no idea how I would describe it to someone. Especially the ending which is just brilliantly different.  Nice Fish opens with a cold scene and a tiny model of a hut, a fisherman and a steam train.  Darkness falls.  Two fishermen appear on the ice who are trying to drill holes in the ice to catch the fish below.

Nice Fish opened in New York last year and is enjoying a short transfer to the Harold Pinter Theatre with Mark Rylance (who also co-wrote Nice Fish).  There was quite the frisson for seeing Mark Rylance on stage by the audience.  He had a pretty special 2016 with an Oscar win in one of the biggest movies of the year.  I don’t think the crowd queuing down Panton Street in the cold were necessarily late comers to admiring Mark Rylance but it definitely adds something, does it not.

The audience for the matinee that I went to were quite the ‘Chatty Cathys’ with one even taking a few snaps on their phone throughout (defo an Bridge of Spies fan). Credit to the front of house staff at the Harold Pinter for being so professional and polite.

Nice Fish is playing at the Harold Pinter theatre until 11 February. Tickets available online. If you turn up dressed as a fisherman or a fish you’ll get a complimentary ticket.  That’s worth it, surely?

Read reviews: Telegraph, Guardian, Time Out

Sarah Southern

What to do with my parents at Christmas?


This year I have once again hosted my parents for Christmas in London.  It’s the third time I have hosted and think I have now got it pitch perfect to keep two teenage-esque 60-something year olds entertained and not falling out.  Thought I would share some ideas for future Christmas planning.

Christmas Eve

If you are childless Christmas Eve can feel a little strange.  You’re not counting down to Santa coming (and if you are, get a grip.  You’re a grown adult) so you’re not filled with all that fizzing excitement.  Instead you want to get through the day without falling out

Nutcracker will have sold out at the Royal Opera House weeks ago.  If you’re mad keen on this try for a Friday Rush ticket or try the ENB at the Coliseum.  I’d suggest a play.  Last year we opted for the dark comedy Hangmen and this year we did the political comedy This House.  The theatres won’t be as busy so you might be lucky and get a seat upgrade.  We were moved from the gods to the stalls which was nice.

Christmas Day

If church is required and you want to go all out I would suggest the service at Westminster Abbey. Tickets for Westminster Abbey are free but have to be booked and are allocated swiftly so keep an eye on the Westminster Abbey site from early November.  The midnight mass is an option or the 11am service on Christmas Day.  Alternatively head along to your local church.

There is no transport on Christmas Day other than Boris bikes.  Parking is suspended so that is handy.  The roads are way busier than you’d expect.  And so many tourists. SO. MANY. TOURISTS.  Take a scooch round Parliament Square and every tourist visiting London seems to have congregated.  Nothing is open so what else you gonna do?

Boxing Day

Hardly anything is open on Boxing Day.  If you like shopping then get yourself to Oxford Street and take in the chaos. If you like a more sedate pace the I would suggest Kew Gardens or the Southbank Centre.  All major museums and galleries are closed but Kew is open so take a lovely walk to burn off the turkey.  You’ll have to rely on the tube as trains aren’t running yet.  The Southbank Centre is open and this year had an open Argentine tango lesson for all to enjoy which my parents loved.

And the day after?

The museums finally reopen on 27 December after closing there doors late on 23 December.  That’s three days of tourists that have come to London for NOTHING to be open.  It will be busy but get yourself a ticket booked for an exhibition and your parents will love it. This year we did the Revolution exhibition at the V&A and Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the Natural History Museum.

Sarah Southern