Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Friday, June 12, 1998 Published at 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK


A joke with qualifications

The University of Salford is giving marks for comedy ... seriously

By BBC News online's Sean Coughlan

How funny is your funniest joke? Very? Passably? Embarrassingly unfunny?

Measuring comedy is never going to be an exact science, but the assessors of a diploma in stand-up comedy at the University of Salford have the tricky task of marking the performance and gags of their trainee comedians.

On Thursday night, four students took their final exam in the Higher National Diploma course in stand-up comedy, in the august academic setting of the Pint Pot pub in Salford, Manchester.

Before a public audience and three assessors from the university, the students performed comedy routines they had written themselves, putting into practice the lessons in timing, delivery, microphone technique, dress sense and developing a comic persona.

Marking these performances, the assessors used a set of specific criteria, such as the originality of the script or how well they handled hecklers. The students will then be graded on a scale that runs from distinction through to merit, pass and fail.

The jokes

But what is a joke of distinction? Or what is a joke that is an academically validated failure?

The course co-ordinator, Lloyd Peters, emphasising that the students are being marked on a broad range of performance skills, was willing to give BBC News online examples of the grading, based on the material from Thursday night.

Comedy student Peter Slater with the one about the mobile library
A joke worthy of a distinction: "A man crossing the road is hit by a mobile library. The injured pedestrian lies in the road, screaming in agony. The driver jumps out, runs over to the man sprawled across the road, and says 'Shhhhh'."

A slightly surreal pass-level joke: "My grandad is so northern he won't go downstairs."

Finally, the unpleasant failure: "Have you seen that bra? She could breast-feed a creche."

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |

Education Contents

Hot Topics
UK Systems
League Tables
Internet Links

University of Salford

Higher National Diploma in Media Performance

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

'Golden hellos' fail to attract new teachers

Children join online Parliament

Pupils 'too ignorant to vote'

Red tape toolkit 'not enough'

Poor report for teacher training consortium

Specialist schools' results triumph

Ex-headmaster guilty of more sex charges

Blunkett welcomes Dyke's education commitment

Web funding for specialist teachers

Local authorities call for Woodhead's sacking

Dyslexic pensioner wins PhD

Armed forces children need school help

Black pupils 'need better-trained teachers'

College 'is not cool'