School of Arts



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 Deputy Head of the School of Arts. What excites me is knowledge 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 type 1 diabetes. A DVD of the show (‘Funny, charming, touching’ - Arthur Smith, Balance magazine) is available here [12] [12]. Since then I’ve done stand-up comedy about the unlikely subject of diabetes for various organisations in the UK and in the USA. In 2015, I performed another health-related solo stand-up show, Break a Leg, at the Gulbenkian Theatre in Canterbury, about my experience of recovering from an accident in which I fractured my femur.

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

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Double, O. (2014). Getting the Joke (2nd edition)The Inner Workings of Stand-Up Comedy. London and New York: Bloomsbury.
Double, O. (2012). Britain Had Talent: A History of Variety Theatre. [Online]. Houndsmills, basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. Available at:
Double, O. (2005). Getting the joke: The inner workings of stand-up comedy. London: Methuen.
Double, O. (1997). Stand-Up! On Being a Comedian. London: Methuen Drama.
Edited book
Ainsworth, A., Double, O. and Peacock, L. eds. (2017). Popular Performance. [Online]. London, UK: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. Available at:
Book section
Double, O. and Wilson, M. (2006). Brecht and cabaret. in: Thomson, P. and Sacks, G. eds. Cambridge Companion to Brecht, 2nd Edition. Cambridge University Press.
Double, O. (1996). Alternative comedy: from radicalism to commercialism. in: Merkin, R. ed. Popular Theatres? Liverpool: Liverpool John Moores University, pp. 127-139.
Double, O. (2018). The origin of the term stand-up comedy update. Comedy Studies [Online] 9. Available at:
Double, O. (2017). '[T]his is eating your greens, this is doing your homework': writing and rehearsing a full-length stand-up show. Comedy Studies [Online]:137-153. Available at:
Double, O. (2017). The origin of the term 'stand-up comedy'. Comedy Studies [Online] 8:1 -4. Available at:
Ainsworth, A., Double, O. and Peacock, L. (2017). Editorial. Theatre, Dance and Performance Training [Online] 8:125-128. Available at:
Double, O. (2017). Tragedy Plus Time: Transforming Life Experience into Stand-Up Comedy. New Theatre Quarterly [Online] 33:143-155. Available at:
Double, O. (2015). 'What do you do?': Stand-up comedy versus the proper job. Ephemera: Theory & Politics in Organization [Online] 15:651-669. Available at:
Double, O. (2012). Max Miller plays with Freud's obstacle: Innuendo and performance technique in variety comedy. Comedy Studies [Online] 3:93-104. Available at:
Double, O. (2010). Not the Definitive Version: an Interview with Ross Noble. Comedy Studies [Online] 1:5-19. Available at:
Double, O. (2009). Teddy Brown and the Art of Performing for the British Variety Stage. New Theatre Quarterly [Online] 25:379-390. Available at:
Double, O. and Wilson, M. (2008). '"I am a Poor, Skinny Man": Persona and physicality in the work of Karl Valentin'. Studies in Theatre and Performance [Online] 28:213-221. Available at:
Double, O. (2007). Karl Valentin's "Father and Son Discuss the War". Studies in Theatre and Performance 27:5-11.
Double, O. (2007). Punk rock as popular theatre. New Theatre Quarterly [Online] 23:35-48. Available at:
Double, O. and Wilson, M. (2004). Karl Valentin's illogical subversion: stand-up comedy and the alienation effect. New Theatre Quarterly XX:203-215.
Double, O. (2000). Teaching Stand-Up Comedy. A Mission: Impossible? Studies in Theatre and Performance 20:14-23.
Double, O. (2000). Characterization in stand-up comedy: From Ted Ray to Billy Connolly, via Bertolt Brecht. New Theatre Quarterly [Online] 16:315-323. Available at:
Double, O. (1994). Laughing all the way to the bank? Alternative comedy in the provinces. New Theatre Quarterly [Online] X:255-262. Available at:
Double, O. (2015). Break a Leg. [YouTube video]. KTV. Available at:
Double, O. (2007). Saint Pancreas. [DVD and Live Performance].
Total publications in KAR: 25 [See all in KAR]
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I teach students about stand-up comedy as well as more general performance techniques. 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 giving a presentation on Koestler’s theory of comedy, or doing a stand-up routine to an audience of 100 people. Pretty much 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.

Modules taught:

  • The Empty Space. I’m in charge of our year-long core practical module, which all first year Drama students take. It gets students working together to create their own performances, gives them a range of different starting points for this, and generally encourages them to see that pretty much anything can be theatre.
  • 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 MA programme 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.
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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 and variety theatre, 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 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.

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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.

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School of Arts - © University of Kent

Jarman Building, The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7UG, T: +44 (0)1227 764000

Last Updated: 26/04/2017