INTERVIEW – Art Laughs London Show!

Are you looking for something different to do in London this Friday night? If so then I have to show for you. Welcome to Art Laughs, a show that evolved from a series of YouTube shows that were started in lockdown. This Friday you can see  Art Laughs’ at London Art Bar. We’re pleased to be able to offer a 20% discount when you use the code LetsGo2TheLAB

I spoke to Verity Babbs about the event to find out all about it.

Hello, tell us all about who you all are

Hi there! I’m Verity Babbs and I’m an arts writer, presenter, and host of Art Laughs.

How did you get into comedy?

I was lucky enough to get into the Oxford Imps in my first year of university, and was also involved in the Oxford Revue. Performing in Oxford allowed me to meet amazing acts who I’m thrilled to still work with now. Shout out to Jericho Comedy for those early opportunities.

Tell us all about Art Laughs Comedy?

Art Laughs’ live shows evolved from the series of YouTube interviews I started doing during the first pandemic lockdown. I would ask a comedian to choose an artwork, and our conversation would springboard off that – we had some amazing acts take part including Rosie Jones, Thanyia Moore, Jenny Eclair, and Leo Reich. The first Art Laughs live show took place at London Art Bar in November 2021, and we’re about to do our 4th show there. In its current format, three comedians perform art-themed sets, and then we all sit down for a panel discussion about a selection of contemporary artworks. I took the show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for the first time this August and had a blast. Art Laughs Comedy is now expanding into improv events and comedy tours through museum and gallery spaces.

Why did you decide to combine art and comedy together?

After studying History of Art at university and taking part in terrible internships and art-world experiences following graduating, I was struck by just how humourless it all was. There’s so much joyful, funny art that we’re trained to look at ernestly and nod our heads and say “hmm very interesting” rather than laugh. When you next go to a gallery, how many people are smiling? How many of your friends would be nervous to go to an exhibition because they think they don’t “understand” art? I wanted to reintroduce a sense of fun to speaking about art, and to make more people feel comfortable engaging with art that could have the power to change their lives.

Who is your favourite artist and why?

I don’t believe in opinions being “basic” but, in maybe the most “basic” move of all – my favourite artist is probably Banksy. Street art was the first type of art that really excited me, and I think it’s the most accessible art form there is. I think that the spirit of his work is one which everyone can tap into, and visiting Dismaland in 2015 really was one of the best experiences of my life.

What is your favourite painting?

This changes too much for me to pick. Sorry!

What are your opinions about Just Stop Oil throwing paint and food on art work?

I’ve been seeing lots of hate for Just Stop Oil at the moment. The paintings that they are targeting are glass-covered so won’t be permanently damaged (although some frames may sustain damage), and I think you can only be cross with these groups if you’re not taking the issue at hand seriously enough. Yes, it’s a shame that additional security measures may be put in place which will keep us further away from the art we love, but art will have no value in a world on fire. We say that “this isn’t the right way to protest” but it’s the most I’ve heard people speaking about these activist groups and their mission. It’s working. All power to them.

You have a show this Friday – tell us a little bit about it

This month we’re back at London Art Bar with an incredible lineup of Matt Hobs, Ted Hill, and Caitriona Dowden who just won the Chortle Student Comedy Award in Edinburgh. Matt and Ted were both in the lineup for the show at the Fringe and I can’t wait to see their sets again, and get all three of their opinions on a new selection of contemporary artworks.

What have been 3 highlights of previous shows?

Harriet Braine being forced to do an encore by an audience sitting on the floor like a school assembly, performing to 3 people at the Fringe in a show where we just spoke about the shows they were in instead, and – in all serious – every single dreamy lineup.

What things are you looking forward to about Art Laughs in the future?

I’m really thrilled to see how Art Laughs is developing as a show and as a brand – starting to work closely with museums and galleries is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long while, so I’m hoping that 2023 will be filled with exciting collaborations. I’m looking to really cement the Art Laughs brand this year, and it’ll be great to challenge myself to create events that are really tailored to a gallery or museum’s collection. And I can’t wait to continue working with the amazing acts who pull it all together. If you run a cultural space and think you could do with some comedy events – email me!

How do you warm up before a show? 

I’m a pacer, and cover a lot of ground walking up and down and muttering to myself. It’s probably quite alarming.

If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?

The best place to follow me and Art Laughs is on my Instagram at @veritybabbsart and on my website

And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?

Art But Fun

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