April 30, 2021

What Can Dancers Learn from Stand-Up Comedy?

Emily Briggs

Dance Theatre, Stand-Up ComedySimply Absurd, 2021

During 2020’s first lockdown, I , like the countless other students in limbo, punctuated my days with new-found sitting room traditions. In my case, I would consume large amounts of stand-up comedy, and would discover in bemusement that stand-up is seldom considered an art form. I observed a harmful generalisation within an arts culture which seems so unanimously anti-populist, and stubbornly set about dismantling within my own work the hierarchies that somehow placed my own art form, dance, in a position of superiority. Holding such respect for the craftsmanship of stand-up comedians, I was sure that there was much I could learn from them, and, naturally, much fun to be had. From this line of enquiry, ‘Simply Absurd’ emerged as a collaborative project seeking to find common ground and creative innovation between stand-up comedy and contemporary dance. The ensued process has resulted in a daft melting pot of stand-up comedy, dance theatre, spoken word and music. Having identified improvisation as a mutually relevant principle, ‘Simply Absurd’ evokes in its audience a spontaneous atmosphere as close to a live show as our screens can reach, sharing a unique live experience recorded in one take. Besides the profound concept- let’s laugh together!