Leicester Comedy Festival: Square Mile Smiles see 12 amateurs take to stage
A few weeks ago, the nearest most of a group of trainee comedians had come to the spotlight was watching their heroes on TV.
Now, the 12 amateurs – including council workers, busy mums and an accountant – are taking to the stage during Leicester Comedy Festival with their own show, Square Mile Smiles.
For the past dozen weeks, comedian Alan Seaman has been running a weekly comedy workshop for the group, helping them each put together a 10-minute routine for the big night.
Council worker Caroline Ryan spotted an advert about the course in a chip shop in Braunstone Gate, in Leicester's West End, and decided to sign up with friend and work colleague Julia Keeling.
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She said: "I'm working on a monologue – it's observational comedy.
"I'm a single parent with a 12-year-old boy, so there's lots to write about.
"I have always been interested in comedy and I've done an open mic night before, but nothing like this.
"It's been an interesting experience."
Mum-of-three Cherilyn Gordon, 35, of Aylestone, Leicester, said she had loved the whole experience.
"I can't stop making notes. I've covered pages with ideas and thoughts and things I've seen," she said.
"It's amazing what you notice when you start thinking about what will make a good story.
"This has been brilliant, I cannot wait to get on stage – no nerves at all."
Everyone on the course will get 10 minutes on stage at Newfoundpool Neighbourhood Centre, Leicester, at 7.30pm on February 21, as part of the comedy festival programme.
Accountant Liam Smith, 26, said: "I have always wanted to be a stand-up comedian so when I saw this course in the Mercury, I signed up.
"The great thing about the atmosphere here is you get to hear what works and what doesn't.
"You get the advice and it's great to be able to try out ideas and get feedback."
Alan Seaman, compere at Leicester's Ship of Fools comedy club, has been working with the residents since mid-November.
He said: "It's not about teaching people to be funny, it's about giving them ideas and getting their minds thinking in a different way. I've been impressed with them all.
"My top tip? Relax and enjoy the show!"
The Square Mile scheme is run by De Montfort University.
It supports projects and clubs that help people living within a square mile of the campus.
Tickets to Square Mile Smiles are free.