Kermit the frog puppet laughing on a couchImage: Photo by Marcela Rogante on Unsplash

Craic-ing up

The pandemic has brought many peripheral challenges to the way in which people work and co-locate their working practice with home life. What has kept me going? You're having a laugh surely....?

As an optimist I generally see a pint glass half-full which is quite satisfying really.  Downtime spent going out and socialising can only be improved at a comedy gig.  The COVID19 pandemic heralded a complete shut down of face-to-face social events and gigs which started to make my pint glass look half empty by the time we reached the lugubrious darkness of January 2021.

Half full pint glass

Photo by Jon Parry on Unsplash

I was heartened to attend an academic conference SCI.COM21 in early March.  Inspired by the discussion of science communication through comedy this lighthearted approach to public engagement in academia seemed palatable given my post-Hogmanay* despondence to engage with my own research.

Having been to some cracking comedy events in the Highlands from the dulcet tones of Frankie Boyle to the homespun standup open mic nights from the Teuchters Comedy Club I've been inspired to check out some SciCom comedy including a Geology sketch at Bright Club Edinburgh from my academic supervisor Dr Stephanie Zihms.

As educators and academics we need to remember not to take life too seriously, it's good for our own wellbeing, moreover it can enable research to be disseminated serendipitously in a variety of ways and contexts.  At the conference I took a plunge into the digital netherworld of the networking booths.  Here you were paired at random with a fellow conference participant for a five minute "SciCom speed date" and I was delighted to meet various scientists with an interest in public engagement.

image of network with dots

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

My takeaway from the booth session was a discussion with a neuroscientist, Naheem Bashir, who is exploring approaches and discussions surrounding death through comedy.  Having experienced the loss of both my parents at a young age I recounted a story of my lived experience which juxtaposed the very raw and emotional experience of losing my loved one with a subsequent (morbidly humourous) incident in a remote and rural West Highland pub.  

Following this encounter I have been inspired to write a poem about the event.  Whether it is a comedy of errors that one day I can deliver live through a standup gig, or just a personal catharsis, it remains to be this space.

* Key terminology.  For those of you who are new to Hogmanay it is a uniquely Scottish event that should be experienced if you have the chance.  The pandemic meant a slightly watered down version in 2021.


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Lucy Beattie

Lucy Beattie

Hi I'm Lucy, a PhD Candidate with the UWS Academy. I'm looking at the role of public engagement in connecting teaching and research in Higher Education

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