The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T +44 (0)1227 764000
Dr Oliver Double
Senior Lecturer and Head of Drama
Drama and Theatre Studies
- 01227 82(3303)
Olly Double’s teaching and research interests in popular performance are inspired by his previous career as a stand up comedian.
I started my career as a lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University in 1997, before arriving at the University of Kent in 1999, where I am currently Head of Drama. What I bring to the School of Arts is knowledge and excitement about comic performance and popular entertainment.
Before working in universities, I was a professional stand-up comedian on the national comedy circuit ('Delightful' -The Guardian), a member of Red Grape Cabaret ('Whoever it was that wrote off alternative comedy, they forgot to tell Red Grape Cabaret' -William Cook, The Guardian), and I used to run the Last Laugh, Sheffield's longest running comedy club. I only gave up professional stand-up when I became a dad and needed a more reliable income, and got fed up of the heartburn that inevitably followed eating service station cheese and onion pasties at 2am on the way back from a gig.
In 2006, I returned to stand-up glory with a solo show called Saint Pancreas at the Horsebridge Centre in Whitstable, based on my experiences of being the father of two kids with diabetes. A DVD of the show (‘Funny, charming, touching’ - Arthur Smith, Balance magazine) is available here. Since then I’ve created a second stand-up show about diabetes that I’ve performed in the UK and the USA.
You might have seen or heard me on such programmes as Fry's English Delight (Radio 4), Little Howard's Big Question (BBC1) and 100 Greatest Stand-Ups (C4).
More information is available on www.oliverdouble.comback to top
DVD available for purchase direct from University of Kent, Drama, price £8
Oliver Double conducted a practice as research project in 2006-07 on the use of emotion and intense personal experience in stand-up comedy. The project involved him devising a full length comedy show about the experience of bringing up two children with diabetes, which was performed at the Horsebridge Arts Centre in Whitstable in November 2006. A film of the show is now available on a DVD, which also includes various forms of reflection on the project. To order click here
- DOUBLE, O. Britain Had Talent: A History of Variety Theatre, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012
- DOUBLE, O. Getting the Joke: The Art of Stand-Up Comedy, Methuen, 2005
- DOUBLE, O. Stand-Up: On Being a Comedian, Methuen, 1997
- DOUBLE, O. ‘Max Miller plays with Freud’s obstacle: Innuendo and performance technique in variety comedy’, Comedy Studies, vol.3 no. 1, 2012, pp.93-104
- DOUBLE, O. 'Not the Definitive Version: an Interview with Ross Noble', Comedy Studies, vol.1 no.1, 2010, pp.5-19
- DOUBLE, O. 'Teddy Brown and the Art of Performing for the British Variety Stage', New Theatre Quarterly, Vol. XXV Part 4, November 2009, pp.379-390
- DOUBLE, O. and WILSON, M., '"I am a Poor, Skinny Man": Persona and physicality in the work of Karl Valentin', Studies in Theatre and Performance, Vol. 28 No. 3, 2008, pp.213-221
- DOUBLE, O. and WILSON, M., 'Karl Valentin's "Father and Son Discuss the War"', Studies in Theatre & Performance, vol. 27 no.1, 2007, pp.5-11
- DOUBLE, O. 'Punk Rock as Popular Theatre', New Theatre Quarterly, Vol. XXIII Part 1, February 2007, pp.35-48
- DOUBLE, O. and WILSON, M., 'Karl Valentin's Illogical Subversion: Stand-Up Comedy and Alienation Effect', New Theatre Quarterly, Vol. XX Part 3, Auguest 2004, pp.203-215
- DOUBLE, O. 'Characterization in Stand-Up Comedy: from Ted Ray to Billy Connolly via Bertolt Brecht', New Theatre Quarterly, Vol. XVI, No. 4, November 2000, pp.315-323
- DOUBLE, O. 'Teaching Stand-Up Comedy. A Mission: Impossible?', Studies in Theatre and Performance, Vol. 20 no. 1, 2000, pp.14-23
- DOUBLE, O. 'Laughing all the way to the bank? Alternative comedy in the provinces', New Theatre Quarterly, Vol. X, No. 39, August 1994, pp.255-62
Articles in volumes/volumes edited
- DOUBLE, O. and WILSON, M., 'Brecht and Cabaret' in The Cambridge Companion to Brecht (second edition), ed. Thomson, P. and Sacks, G., Cambridge University Press, 2006, pp. 40-61
- DOUBLE, O. 'Alternative comedy: from radicalism to commercialism', in Popular Theatres, ed. Merkin, R., Liverpool John Moores University Press, 1996, pp.127-39
I teach students about stand-up comedy and various other types of popular performance, including variety theatre, slapstick and punk performance. This involves practical, theoretical and historical aspects and wherever possible I try to look at these side by side. Students working with me might find themselves learning how to ‘take the nap’ (i.e. fake a punch), looking at antique theatre programmes in the library, performing an eccentric dance in a variety show, giving a presentation on Koestler’s theory of comedy, or doing a stand-up routine to an audience of 250 in a student bar. All of my teaching grows out of my research interests and my professional experience, and for me, it’s about much more than just writing Powerpoint presentations for lectures and marking essays. I also compère my students’ shows, which means appearing onstage and getting laughs over fifteen times a year.
- Popular Performance. A second year module in which students carry out historical research into a particular topic, and use that as the basis of a live show which they write and perform. The topic changes every year, but previous topics include variety theatre, popular radio comedy, music hall, slapstick, and punk
- Introduction to Stand-Up. A third year module which introduces students to theoretical and historical aspects of stand-up comedy, and gives them a chance to perform their own short self-written routines
- Stand-Up Comedy. A year-long fourth year module in which students perform at their own weekly comedy club (Monkeyshine), arrange and perform a series of open mike gigs in established clubs, carry out practical and theoretical research into stand-up, and arrange their best material into a 20-minute showcase in a local venue
I am interested in stand-up comedy and various other types of popular performance. What particularly interests me is anything in which the performer works straight out to the audience, performing in the first person and the present tense – in which the audience can make their opinions known by laughing, applauding, heckling or booing.
In addition to my books on stand-up, I have written articles and chapters on the early twentieth century German comedian Karl Valentin, Brecht’s relationship with cabaret, punk rock as popular theatre, and the enormously fat xylophonist Teddy Brown. I have just written a book about British variety theatre for Palgrave, to be published August 2012. I am a contributing editor to New Theatre Quarterly, and I’m on the Advisory Board of Comedy Studies. I’ve also written a number of entries for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.back to top
I am interested in supervising students researching stand-up comedy, comic performance in general, variety theatre, popular music performance (particularly punk), or any related area of popular performance.back to top