Programme Snapshots | Feeling Funny, Being Human: What can humour tell us about being human?

Programme Snapshots | Feeling Funny, Being Human: What can humour tell us about being human?

Programme Snapshots | Feeling Funny, Being Human: What can humour tell us about being human?

1) Can you describe your Being Human event in 140 characters?

Funny, jokes, laughter, humans, computers, animals, researchers, comedy writers, comedy improvisation. Importance of humour to being human!

2) Can you tell us a bit about the research that this relates to?

Our event explores the relationship between humour and being human.  This is discussed from a range of disciplinary perspectives including creative writing, film and television, sociology, psychology and computing.  We also draw on the   perspectives of those working in the creative industries and the experience of everyone present at the event of creating humour ‘in the moment’. The event contributes to understanding of what is means to be human, by analysing the dynamic relationships between humour, humans and non-humans.

3) What will people learn or experience that they can’t encounter elsewhere?

Our event will provide a unique opportunity to discuss with leading experts about the most dynamic and complex feature of our lives – humour.  People will also be able to generate jokes using The Joking Computer – computer software that can build billions of jokes – and talk to one of its creators.  We’ll see just how funny humans can be as the comedy improvisation group, Funny Women Players, will make up their performance on the spot based on suggestions from the audience on the topic of humour and being human. The theatre in the Antonin Artaud Building will be a fitting space for the whole experience.

4) How is this relevant to everyday life?

Humour is central to everyday life.  It is one of the most important and universal features of our everyday lives.  It can be experienced in many contexts and it can fulfil a wide range of social, emotional and psychological functions.  Our event will lead to an increased and deeper understanding of human social cognition and development, gender differences in humour creation, the relationship between humour and creativity, human-animal relationships, computer interactions and the linguistics of humour.

5) And finally, please tell us five favourite things about your location/venue.

Brunel University London is an interesting place to work and study or to visit during events such as Feeling Funny, Being Human because:

  1.  It has an interesting namesake. Brunel University London is named after Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the celebrated 19th century engineer renowned for innovation, entrepreneurship and creative thinking.  These qualities underpin the teaching delivered and research conducted at Brunel University London. A life-size bronze statue of Isambard Kingdom Brunel is situated on the University’s main concourse.
  2. It is home to the Centre for Comedy Studies Research (CCSR).  The world’s first, and only, international interdisciplinary research centre devoted to the academic study of comedy is based at Brunel University London.  The CCSR considers the production, content, reception and wider socio-political implications of comedy in its variety of formats and from a range of perspectives.  The CCSR has strong links with the comedy industry and is supported by a number of CCSR Ambassadors including Jo Brand (comedian, writer, actress and Brunel Honorary Graduate), Lee Mack (comedian, writer, actor and Brunel Honorary Graduate) and Nitin Ganatra (Actor, including Eastenders and Mumbai Calling).
  3.  It has state-of-the-art creative space.  The Antonin Artaud Building at Brunel University London is a purpose-built creative space, including a range of multipurpose performance spaces, a recording studio, a live sound-proof music room, a radio studio, editing suites, a rehearsal room and a digital newsroom. Feeling Funny, Being Human will take place in the main theatre space in the Antonin Artaud Building.
  4. You’ve seen it in films and on TV.  From A Clockwork Orange to Spooks and Silent Witness Brunel University London’s buildings, car parks and roads have been used for numerous location settings for films, television programmes and advertisements.  This means you should expect the unexpected when walking around campus, as was the case in the summer of 2013 when campus car parks were covered in snow when a Royal Mail Christmas advert was being filmed!
  5. It has resident wildlife.  The Wilfred Brown Building pond is home to a resident heron which regularly makes an appearance to the delight of passers-by.  Squirrels dart across pathways and up trees as you cross campus too.


Feeling Funny is just one of many activities during Being Human which connects cutting edge research in the humanities to issues shaping our everyday lives. For updates on the latest Being Human news follow us on Twitter @BeingHumanFest, on Facebook, and on Pinterest. Don’t forget to sign up to our e-newsletter too!