We Are Not Amused! Laughter in the Nineteenth Century

23rd Nov 2019, 11:30am - 1st Mar 2020, 9:30pm

The Atkinson, Southport


What did it take to make a Victorian Laugh? Researchers from Edge Hill University are revealing the forgotten history of nineteenth-century humour in an exhibition at The Atkinson in Southport opening Saturday 23rd November. Roll up and see the things that made Victorians chuckle, including bad puns, nonsense poems, and the first stars of stand-up comedy. You can even see the top hat of ‘The Greatest Showman’ P. T. Barnum.

We Are Not Amused will open with a day of family friendly activities and comedy performances where visitors can unearth old jokes from original Victorian joke books, or try their hand at cartooning and joke-writing. In the evening, Greg Jenner – Chief Historian for the BBC’s Horrible Histories series and host of the hit BBC podcast ‘You’re Dead to Me’ – will join Dr Bob Nicholson on stage for a Q&A on history and comedy.

They will be followed by stand-up comedian Iszi Lawrence – presenter of Radio 4’s ‘Making History’ – who will host a stand-up comedy show about obscure figures from history featuring Greg Jenner and researchers from Edge Hill.


Daytime activities on 23 November (drop-in):

  • 11:30, 14:00, 16:00 – Exhibition Tours
  • 12:00-17:00 – ‘Victorian Cartooning’ for families
  • 12:30-14:00 – ‘The Miseries of Human Life’ joke-writing workshop
  • 14:00-17:00 – ‘Joke Detectives’ – unearth old jokes from our archive

Evening Activities (booking required):

  • 18:00-19:30 – ‘In Conversation with Greg Jenner’
  • 20:00-21:30 – ‘Z-List, Dead-List’

This event is part of ‘We Are Not Amused!‘ – a one-day event at The Atkinson (Southport), organised by Edge Hill as part of the annual Being Human Festival of the Humanities

This event is organised by Edge Hill University and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, British Association for Victorian Studies, and the British Association for Romantic Studies.