Make them laugh

Always wanted to have a go at writing jokes but never had the chance? A new community arts project is being developed in Bath and is eager to find new talent AND wants to hear what you find funny!

Participants are invited to come and join a series of relaxed and welcoming workshops. 

This inclusive programme will be particularly beneficial for people who experience social anxiety, feel isolated or who need to improve their confidence. Workshops will be geared to encouraging teamwork, group communication and creative skills.

About the partners

Making Theatre Gaining Skills CIC is a social enterprise led by former Edinburgh Fringe director and Natural Theatre manager Hilary Strong that has delivered training programmes and arts projects across the South East since 2011. They offer an innovative solution to long-term unemployment, with a proven record of helping jobless people build their confidence and learn new skills, using theatre craft and therapeutic creative activities. Participants can take part in performance, or fulfil backstage roles such as technicians, set builders and stage crew. Referrals are accepted from a range of support agencies including Mind, United Response, social prescribers and NHS community mental health teams. More information is available on their website

MTGS is now working with the Widcombe Social Club to establish the Bath Institute of Laughter which will be based in the popular social club. The first three months will be focussed on road-testing activities, developing a steering group and linking with a range of referral agencies.


In July we will be running three workshops with different sectors, specifically: 

  • Young people and adults with mental health issues and/or learning difficulties, 
  • women of all ages (currently still under-represented in comedy) 
  • Adults who are socially isolated, especially due to lockdown

Friday 16th July     11am – 1pm         Cartoon drawing workshop   

Open to anyone aged 12+, no previous drawing experience necessary! Ideal for people who are reluctant to engage in group work as they can participate on their own. Harry Venning’s strip cartoon Clare in the Community has graced the pages of The Guardian since 1996. In 2004 it was adapted into a sitcom for Radio 4 starring Sally Phillips, winning a Sony Radio Award the following year. Harry Venning’s work for children and young adults has appeared extensively in books, magazines and comics. He has provided cartoons for more publications than you can shake a nib at, and prides himself in the ability to find comedy in the least promising of topics. Harry will show you how to transform a blank piece of paper into a riot of laughs, an explosion of adventure and a gobsmack of disbelief.

Sunday 18th July   10am – 4pm            What Makes Women Laugh?

A relaxed comedy workshop for women only, suitable for beginners. Lots of acting games, improvisation and creative stimulus in a supportive environment. A chance to come up with daft gags, clever puns, creaky yarns – even sketch ideas. Suitable for women of all ages who are happy participating in group work.

Sunday 25th July 10am – 8pm            Write a sketch in a day

A more challenging workshop where a small group of participants will write a topical or satirical sketch in just one day with a public performance at 7.00pm as part of the Bath Comedy Festival’s Permission to Laugh events. Supported by professional comedy practitioners, this workshop is suitable for adults with some writing experience who can cope with deadlines.  

The Bath Institute of Laughter is a Making Theatre Gaining Skills project funded by the Quartet Community Foundation and with support from the Bath Comedy Festival.


Widcombe Social Club, Widcombe Hill, Bath BA2 6AA

Accessible for wheelchair users. Households/bubbles can share a table and social distancing will be applied according to the Covid regulations in place at the time.

All three workshops are free entry. However, numbers are limited; if you would like to take part please email for further details. Group information sessions can also be arranged in advance.