The Wheeler Centre
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Comic In Tuition: Can Comedy be Taught?
Are ‘funny bones’ something you’re born with, or can they grow with time?
In partnership with Melbourne International Comedy Festival, we look at ‘Nature vs Nurture’ in comedy. Schools around the country are now using comedy as an educational tool to improve literacy and confidence, and to explore different points of view. How can comedy help us learn? And what else can it teach?
With host Wes Snelling, our panel of comedians and educators – Steph Tisdell, Meg Upton, Patti Fawcett and Evan Watts – discuss mentoring and directing, comedy as a learning tool and its place in the school curriculum.
Melbourne’s own award-winning Wes Snelling has a ‘beautiful voice, and a wicked sense of comic timing’ (the Age). He has been working within the arts industry for over a decade as an actor, singer, writer, comedian, director, radio presenter, production/stage/tour manager and facilitator. Wes is a celebrated Australian artiste whose work has seen him tour throughout Australia, Europe, the UK and most recently New York.
Deadly Funny Comedy National Winner 2014, Steph was named Funniest Aboriginal Woman in Australia. She then moved to Scotland and was runner-up in Hilarity Bites Best Newcomer and a semi-finalist in the prestigious So You Think You’re Funny competition at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Patti Fawcett is the winner of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival's 2019 Class Clowns National Grand Final.
The 15-year-old standup comic and musician from Castlemaine, Victoria, may not have been in the game for long – but plans on sticking around with some shows in the comedy festival, with Up Next.
Meg Upton is an educator, teaching artist, lecturer and researcher in drama education. She has taught in primary and secondary schools and currently works at Deakin University. A previous education manager at Malthouse Theatre and MTC, a one-time judge of Class Clowns, and an advocate for the development of a compulsory unit for teachers called Humour in the Classroom 101, Meg has learned from the many fifteen year olds she has encountered that comedy can be intuitive, is often impulsive, but can also be taught.
After graduating from the Victorian College of Arts drama school in the early 90’s Evan made his way in the Melbourne independent theatre scene with his plays being performed by a range of theatre companies (La Mama, Playbox, Griffin Theatre) and on ABC Radio.
Retraining as a teacher in 2003 (continuing a proud family tradition) he now heads an innovative Year 9 City Program at Eltham College that prioritizes community engagement and authentic outcomes in an urban environment. He’s passionate about the power of storytelling and utilizing a drama based curriculum to release the creative power of the next generation of change makers.