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28 October 2014

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Voices: Turning words into action
Nik Hill at boys at the comedy workshop


Boys at Central Technology College had a lesson in laughs as Gloucester funnyman Nik Hill gave them a comedy masterclass.
And he learned something important too.

Nik Hill and pupils at the comedy workshop at Central Technology College

When I first started in stand up some 18 months ago, I had little idea as to exactly where it was going to take me and who I was going to meet.

We talked about various aspects of comedy and, at the end of it, I felt on a real high!
Comedian Nik Hill

Since my first gig way back in February 2002 at The Miners Arms in Sling, I have performed at many gigs and encountered a wide variety of people - some receptive and others not so!

During this time I've been on a really steep learning curve. Stand up is a case of sink or swim and, if you can keep swimming for long enough, you may be lucky enough to get a break.

audio Make 'em laugh: Nik Hill's comedy workshop with the boys from Central
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A Shedload of Laughs

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+ Central Technology College is one of three secondary schools and 20 primary schools in the Gloucester Education Action Zone, part of the Government’s initiative to raise standards and revive inner city communities.

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Comedy has been in my blood since I was at school,I guess, and it was a chance meeting with BBC Voices producer Simon Williams that led me to hosting my first ever comedy workshop at Central Technology College.

I had the idea of taking the format of a stand-up comedy session into a school so any kids there who might be interested could get a taste of what's involved.

As time went by I began wondering if I'd done the right thing - after all it's one thing performing for a five minute slot to a comedy orientated audience, quite a different proposal in presenting a group of 14-year-olds with an idea that they may have no interest in whatsoever.

NikHill's comedy workshop
New routine: Nik Hill faces a different audience in the classroom

Tuesday 1st July was the big day - and I have to admit I was more than a little nervous!

As I entered the classroom I was met with a sea of faces staring at me, some in curiosity, some indifferent.

But as I told them: "You can say what you want to me here. Believe you me, I've dealt with far worse than you on the stand-up circuit!"

Having broke the ice, for the next hour, I managed to get every single kid in the room involved in some way or another.

We talked about various aspects of comedy, who they liked, what made them laugh, Punch and Judy, where to get material from, how to put it together and, at the end of it, I felt on a real high!

Potential often gets overlooked - and if a comedy workshop helps to give a few kids additional confidence or even get them started in an art form which they've never considered then it's all well worth it.
Comedian Nik Hill

This was brilliant, this was what I wanted to do for a job - teach! The kids were great, a bit cheeky at times but respectful.

This was something different for them, something where they could contribute with no right or wrong answers.

The next stage is to revisit the school and assist them create some short stand up routines in order for them to perform at the opening of their revamped quad which has had a makeover as part of the Voices project.

If this goes well then we have plans to roll this project out to other schools in the county.

Talent exists everywhere and it's really rewarding to actually be involved in some way.

Potential often gets overlooked - and if my comedy workshop helps to give a few kids additional confidence or even get them started in an art form which they've never considered then it's all well worth it.

So what did the boys make their masterclass in laughter?

Martin: "I can see how to piece comedy material together now."

James: "I learned it's easy to make something funny out of nothing."

audioHear more of Nik's comedy workshop - and the boys' reactions

The final word from Nik Hill: "School can be places with a lot of talent that isn't being exploited.

"It would be great to see some people coming through to the circuit that way - and I'm sure we will."

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What is Voices?
Capturing the stories, concerns and aspirations of those unheard voices across the UK.
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