Serious About Comedy

A major collaboration between the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Serious About Comedy kicked off at the REP on April Fool’s Day 2022. 

A balloon with a happy face

This ambitious project questioned and transgressed the boundaries between high and low art, explored what comedy is and how it works, and asked what forms it might take and how it might contribute to placemaking and cultural life, specifically in Birmingham. 

A Serious About Comedy film will be showcased at the Birmingham Rep in mid-2024. Additional information will be provided in due course.


  • Professor Ewan Fernie (University of Birmingham)
  • Sean Foley (Artistic Director, Birmingham Rep)

Is Birmingham Funny?

  • Shazia Mirza (Comedian)
  • Jo Enright (Comedian)
  • John Simmitt (Comedian)

Shakespeare panel

  • Tim Fitzhigham (Comedian)
  • Professor Michael Dobson (University of Birmingham)
  • Helen Monks (Actress)

Funny Bones - nature or nurture?

  • Olivia Nixon (Actress)
  • Felicity Montago (Actress)
Gender, class and satire
  • Sophie Ducker (Comedian)
  • Ken Cheng (Comedian)
  • John Holmes (Comedian)
  • Shazia Mirza (Comedian)
Cancel Culture
  • Shazia Mirza (Comedian)
  • Ken Cheng (Comedian)
  • Anthea Kugblenu (Comedian)
Sean Foley

Sean Foley

Artistic Director, The Rep

“Serious About Comedy continues The Rep’s commitment to being a major player in presenting comedy in all forms, such as developing new writing and emerging comedy talent whilst presenting the very latest hit comic productions as well as the ever-funny classics. This brilliant new partnership with the University of Birmingham establishes a new forum where the comedy industry dances provocatively with academia and the public, , in a shared pursuit of learning and laughs. But not necessarily in that order…”