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Laughably intelligent – two academics reveal the lighter side of learning at the Leicester Comedy Festival

A Loughborough professor and a former PhD student have joined forces to give a rib-tickling take on academic life at this year’s Leicester Comedy Festival.

Professor John Arnold (pictured left) and Dr Harry Sanders will perform Who Let the Dons Out? at the Needle and Pin, in the Rushes, Loughborough, on Thursday, February 3, at 8pm and then Kayal, in Granby Street, Leicester, on February 6, at 3.30pm.

The pair are both experienced stand-ups, and proudly advertise that this is ‘the only comedy show with a reading list’.

Prof Arnold, from the School of Business and Economics, performs as Professor John, and was a finalist in the 2019 Leicester Comedy Festival silver stand-up competition – aimed at comedians aged over 55.

The ageing, terminally pedantic psychology academic (his words), said: “Psychology, as an academic subject – and academia in general – have plenty of the absurd about them. This absurdity spills over into our everyday lives and laughing is the only healthy response.

“If you think academics are strange, nerdy people inhabiting a mysterious closed world, this will give you all the proof you need.”

Geographer Dr Sanders, who completed his PhD in 2021, now works at Canterbury Christ Church University, and bases his comedy on the darker side of environmental science, including climate change, plastic pollution, intensive farming, and invasive species.

He said: “Climate change is a key issue that society urgently needs to tackle. Although it’s a deadly serious subject, what better way to communicate the issues than by laughter?”.

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Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 22/14

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2021 QS World University Rankings and University of the Year for Sport by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2022, and 10th in both the Guardian University League Table 2022 and the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.