On 28th April 2016 Rich Pickings teamed up with LOCO London Comedy Film Festival to present The Science of Laughter, a film and discussion event which assembled voices from the fields of neuroscience, psychology and comedy performance to discuss the nature of laughter, comedy’s therapeutic and social functions and its physiological effects. A screening of short films was accompanied by a panel discussion with:
- Prof Sophie Scott: neuroscientist, comedian and Wellcome Trust senior fellow at University College London, researching the neuroscience of voices, speech, and laughter.
- Dr. Caspar Addyman: lecturer in psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London and specialist in baby laughter.
- Jamie Wood: acclaimed performer combining fine art, theatre, clown and dance, and ‘Giggle Doctor’ with Theodora Children’s Trust, visiting sick children in hospitals throughout the UK.
- Nicola Hill: general manager for the MediCinemas at Guys and St.Thomas’ hospitals in London.
The panel was hosted by interviewer and occasional stand-up comic Rachael Castell. We filmed the discussion and you can see a lot of it in the video below. Scroll further down the page to watch some of the films which screened at the event, and to find links for further reading on the science and psychology of humour.
Further reading & viewing
- Caspar Addyman’s Baby Laughter blog: babylaughter.net
- Why We Laugh – Sophie Scott’s TED Talk: ted.com/talks/sophie_scott_why_we_laugh?
- Centre for Comedy Studies Research (CCSR): brunel.ac.uk/cbass/social-sciences-media-communications/sociology/research/ccsr
- International Society for Humor Studies (ISHS): humorstudies.org
- The Humor Lab: humorresearchlab.org
- Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor: aath.org
- The Psychology of Humor: psychologyofhumor.com
- The Humor Code – Book and research project – humorcode.com
- American Humor Studies Association: americanhumorstudiesassociation.wordpress.com
- Studies in American Humor – studiesinamericanhumor.org
- Make Me Laugh, University of East Anglia Research Project: Makemelaugh.org.uk
- The Dark Psychology of Comedy: theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/02/the-dark-psychology-of-being-a-good-comedian/284104/
The short film programme that accompanied the discussion demonstrated a diverse range of comedy, from gentle rom-com to surreal humour, satire, mockumentary and gross-out comedy horror. You can watch some of the films below in full and others as trailers.
Kitty, Kitty Romford (Dir. Chris & Ben Blaine, Wr. Cariad Lloyd)
Mr Madila [trailer] (Wr. & Dir. Rory Waudby-Tolley)
Croissant (Dir. Louis Hudson, Wr. Ian Ravenscroft, Louis Hudson)
The Fat and Lean Wrestling Match (Wr. & Dir. Georges Méliès)
Ducks with Engines (Wr. & Dir. Big Red Button)
Coalition Fan Girls (Wr. & Dir. Charlie Dinkin)
Let’s Play Nomad X (Wr. & Dir. Kristian Andrews)
Friend Request Pending [trailer] (Dir. Chris Foggin, Wr: Chris Croucher)
Milk [trailer] (Dir. Ben Mallaby, Wr. Toby Williams, Paul F Taylor)
The Science of Laughter was presented as part of the Rich Pickings ‘Inside Out’ event series, with the support of a Wellcome Trust People Award.