Stand-up for Digital Humanities

By David P Beavan, on 22 March 2012

It was my second week enjoying the wonders of my new role as Research Manager at UCLDH, and then it took a new turn. I was quite happily sipping wine and chatting away at some New Staff Welcome Do, when I was taken advantage of. Claire Thomson from Scandinavian Studies bounced up to me and asked, “fancy doing some stand-up comedy?” It was the wine, at least that’s my excuse, but I said yes.

Fast-forward a few weeks, and after some hard-core training from Steve Cross of the UCL Public Engagement Unit, I was about to be a comedian. Not ready to be a comedian, but certainly about to. Myself, fellow Digital Humanaut Steve Gray, and four other brave brains from UCL were performing at Bright Club, ‘the thinking person’s variety night’. We were going to educate and entertain one hundred paying punters, and they were expecting a good show.

Digital Humanities is a very diverse field, and many scholars have a good stab at trying to define it, almost as a rite of passage. So it was only fair that I have a go myself for Bright Club. It’s fair to say my content was definitely NSFW, so I can’t go into many details. But one thing is for sure; my interpretation was the only one I knew of that offered rampaging cyborgs and the medieval use of ultrasound equipment.

The whole experience was amazing; the capacity crowd lapped up every act and were incredibly rewarding to perform to. The camaraderie between the acts was special; we had all been through a fantastic journey, from academics to comedians. Sadly it’s back to the day job (for now), but I’ll never be able to write academic prose without wondering where I could insert a joke about somebody’s private parts.