Time to Take a Stand – UP!



Whoever said laughter is the best medicine wasn’t far wrong – although they obviously hadn’t tried Valium.

The physical, psychological and social effects of humour and laughter are as bountiful as Donald Trump’s frontal hair shelf. Studies show that humour and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. In fact a good old belly laugh can leave your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes.

Making people laugh is therefore giving them a unique gift. And the amazing thing about laughter is that it’s free – unless of course you’re lucky enough to be at one of Brighton & Hove’s many brilliant comedy nights, in which case it can cost you anything from £3 – £30, depending on the experience of the comedians.

If you’ve longed to have your entourage in stitches, but can only ever seem to muster a joke from last year’s Christmas cracker, then help is at the end of your funny bone.

Louise Stevenson

This October, Brighton Comedy Course is teaming up with Evolution Arts to offer a 6-week beginners course in the art of stand-up. Run by Louise Stevenson (pictured above) a Scottish stand-up who started her comedy career in 1999 on the New Zealand circuit, Brighton Comedy Course is for anyone who wants to:

  • Improve Confidence
  • Enhance public speaking ability
  • Increase presentation skills
  • Write and edit comedy

And who knows, you could go on to be the next stand-up sensation like several previous graduates, including the hilarious Phil Jerrod.The world is your Apollo!

comedy course

Brighton Comedy Course Graduates

I met up with Louise after Brighton Comedy Course’s most recent graduate gig at The Verdict in Kemp Town to ask her a few questions about life in the laughter lane:

Q. What made you get into comedy?

A: Honestly, I love making people laugh and thought I could. I had just moved to Wellington, NZ and I shared my aspirations with the first woman comic I saw performing and she just happened to have space on her comedy course which started the next day, fate maybe.

Q. What are the highs and lows of being a stand-up comedian?

Highs are coming off a stage with a big audience who’ve really enjoyed you. Lows are the travelling from town to town staying in places on your own (there’s a lot of cinema!), And the combination of a high and low is where a woman comes up and says “ My boyfriend totally laughed his arse off and he never thinks women are funny!”

Q. Who is your favourite comedian and why?
Kevin Bridges, because he’s hilarious and talks about a lot of things that I can relate to coming from Glasgow.

Q. How has being a comedian changed you?
Now there’s a question, well it’s given me much more confidence over the years, it also gives you the balls to share something you thinks funny without worrying what the response will be. Who cares-you won’t know its funny till you put it out there.

Q. What are 3 main things you hope people will get from your course?
Confidence, the ability to perform a tight set, and a love of comedy.

Q. TEll us a joke.!
Southern Rail-need I expand?

Give yourself and others the gift of laughter today by booking a place on the Brighton Comedy Course at Evolution Arts here.

Comedian & Brighton Comedy Course Graduate Phil Jerrod

Jerrod informs us, deadpan, that he’s the most boring man he knows, then riffs off into a fantastic set of perfectly delivered, perfectly timed and perfectly glorious comedy.” BROADWAY BABY

Certainly one to keep an eye on. His tortured ramblings about being white and middle-class run on like the nightmare I imagine it isn’t and made me genuinely laugh out loud” – The Brighton Argus


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Salvage Cafe – art, coffee and comedy on tap!

Brighton’s creative folk love an independent café where they can relax and wile away the hours deep in artistic thought or conversation, one hand on their laptop, the other on their Mochaccino. Café Salvage on Western Road is a Mecca for such sorts, attracting a mixture of writers, designers, artists, performers, filmmakers and general café-goers through its doors every day.

Salvage’s owner Tazz, a former fine art student from Nottingham with a passion for good coffee and fine teas, rebranded and opened Salvage Café in April 2015. Tazz says:

“I opened Salvage because It had always been a personal dream of mine to run my own coffee shop and I felt Brunswick town didn’t have a community cafe where locals could come and have delicious affordable food and drink.”

But Salvage isn’t just an independent café with vintage furniture, ambient lighting and a great play-list. Everything in the café including the upcycled tables, huge railway mirror, pharmacy pigeon holes, postbox and traffic light is for sale. Tazz says:

 “I loved the idea of a shop where if you like the chair you are sitting on, you can take it home!”

At the moment that might be the vintage cinema chairs or a 1940’s recliner.

Passionate about art and photography, Tazz recently introduced a programme of arts event at Salvage including a monthly poetry evening, a fortnightly acoustic music event and a bi-monthly comedy night. In fact, Evolution’s own Sarah Charsley and newcomer to the Brighton comedy circuit will be performing her latest standup routine there on Friday 5th February. Sarah says:

“Salvage café is a great place for a cool and kooky comedy night such as Comestible Comedy. For £10 you get a tasty Indian veggie meal and laughter on tap. And if you fancy it, you can even go home with a traffic light.”

If you’re in the mood for a giggle and fancy writing your own comedy or even taking your first step into standup, Evolution Arts is launching its brand new Comedy Writing Taster, a VIP tour through top tips to tickle, led by BBC Comedy Producer & Director Diane Messias. Also guaranteed to put a grin on your face is Mahasukha’s celebrated Soulful Singing, an ode to joyful living if ever there was one.

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The power of the written word

“Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.” ― Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

“My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel–it is, before all, to make you see.” ― Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim

“Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know more.” ― Confucius


There was an interesting article in the Guardian recently about how a makeshift library has been set up in a Calais refugee camp. The Jungle as it’s known is thought to shelter at least 3,000 refugees.  The library was opened on a voluntarily basis by Mary Jones, a British teacher.  Stocking around 200 books, the makeshift library also supports a school that offers classes to the refugees and asylum seekers that live in the camp. Jones believes people want to get on with their lives, they want to learn and discover and dream.

So do books change lives? The Jungle is not the only place where books have been a saving grace.  Libraries Without Boarders are setting up The Ideas Box at several vulnerable sites around the world.  It’s a portable multi-media kit for refugee and vulnerable populations, created by designer Philippe Starck together with Libraries Without Borders and the United Nations Refugee Agency. 

“When one has lost everything and there is nothing else left, the only thing that cannot be taken away is the ability to dream” — Philippe Starck

The library run by volunteers at the refugee camp in Minzhu after the Sichuan quake in 2008.

Building resilience, building futures: The Ideas Box supports the rebuilding of lives and communities, giving people the means to produce their own cultural creations (photographs and videos, artwork, writing, blogging, and more). In refugee camps, the Ideas Box contributes to cognitive development, supports the struggle against boredom and alienation, helps build resilience from trauma and grief, and fosters reconciliation.  

How truly remarkable that among the rebuilding of lives the written word has a place. Not only a practical one enabling people to get ahead and change their course, but an emotional one, offering an escape from alienation, grief and often boredom.

So do books really have the power to change life?  The written word has the power to shape your opinions and beliefs, change the direction of where you’re heading emotionally and therefore shape your life.  They let us travel the world without leaving our armchair, break our hearts and put them back together again.  They show us friendship, battles, fairies, humour, the world, heartbreak and love and above all the resilience of the human spirit.  Books can have such an impact that they change the way we think about the world.


What books have changed your life, or had a radical impact on it? Please leave a comment below.  Whether The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine changed the way you think about politics or Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird was your first introduction to racial equality or your heart was broken in two by Ian McEwan’s Atonement, we shouldn’t underestimate the power of the written word.

Feeling inspired? Do you have an interest in writing or need an extra push to get your creative juices flowing?  Is there a novel in you that could inspire and impact on others?  Do you have a story to tell? At Evolution Arts  we offer several courses and workshops focusing on the written word.  We have some starting this Autumn including a Memoir Writing workshop, a Myths and Fairy Tales writing course and a new Writing Club to kickstart your ideas. Call the centre on 01273 204204 or click here for more information and to book.

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Try writing a poem in 5 minutes.

Have you every tried writing a poem? It can be a very liberating experience, and it needn’t take more than 5 minutes.

In our poetry classes at the Brighton studio people sometimes tell us that their childhood experiences of poetry at school were horrendous; their teachers made them learn poems off by heart, or they had to write lengthy essays about poems they didn’t understand.

The way we do things around here is different. Writing poems is a way of playing with words. It can be wildly liberating and fun, even if you have no experience of creative writing whatsoever.

How to write a poem in 5 minutes.

A haiku is usually only three lines long. It’s a form of Japanese poem and it’s beautifully simple. Here’s an example of a Haiku written by Basho in the 1600s;

“The first cold shower;
Even the monkey seems to want
A little coat of straw.”

Isn’t it amazing how this tiny, simple poem has survived for more than four centuries? This traditional haiku form usually involves an indication of the season. Also, if you count the syllables of each line, you’ll find that the first line is 5 syllables, followed by 7 and the final line is 5. This is a great little puzzle to try out on a train, or while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil.

If you’d prefer to try something a bit more free-form, you can do what Jack Kerouac did in the 1960s; he ignored the rules;

“Alone, in old
clothes, sipping wine
Beneath the moon”

Jack Kerouac wrote hundreds of little haikus that were all just snapshots of his daily life. As you can see, a poem can just be a very simple tiny fragment; something you notice about your life.

Here’s an exercise from our poetry course for you to try right now, before you do anything else:

  1. Write a haiku about a thing you can see, and its colour
  2. Write a haiku about the things you can hear
  3. Write a haiku about the quality of the light around you

And no matter how your haiku turned out, share it with us – Jack Kerouac didn’t seem to care how his turned out, they were all beautiful in their own way!

If you enjoyed this post you might enjoy one of our writing courses.

The next poetry workshop in a day is: 22nd February 2015 with Subhadassi.

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