Dr Sophie Quirk

Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre
+44(0)1227 827532
Dr Sophie Quirk


My research and teaching centre on comic and popular performance. In particular, I am interested in the social and political impact of contemporary stand-up comedy performance, and the techniques comedians use to manipulate and control audience response. My 2015 book, Why Stand-up Matters: How Comedians Manipulate and Influence, explores these two themes.

I am a former Kent student, having completed my PhD here in 2011. I have been teaching at Kent since 2007, joining the full-time staff in 2013.

Research interests

My current research explores how stand-up comedians have responded to developments in politics, society and industry in the twenty-first century, and the extent to which this has shaped the form and conventions of contemporary stand-up comedy.

My other, developing research interests include all kinds of contemporary, grassroots and DIY performance; the creation, manipulation and subversion of cultures; the use and abuse of showmanship in the political sphere.


MA/MDrama Stand-Up Comedy: A year-long specialism 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

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.

Creative Project: The practical and creative equivalent of a dissertation for third-year students. Drawing on the experiences that have shaped their passions and attitudes across their degree, students utilise their accumulated practical and creative skills to make a performance of their choosing.

Previous teaching has included:

  • Introduction to Stand-up Comedy
  • Modern Theatre
  • Texts for Theatre
  • MA/MDrama Directing


I welcome proposals for postgraduate research projects. I am particularly keen to hear from students considering topics related to any of the following fields:

  • comic performance;
  • popular, folk and DIY genres of performance;
  • the social, cultural or political significance of performance.
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