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Cast in the finale at
HMP Pentonville
The Comedy School's Work in

T H E   C R I M I N A L   J U S T I C E   S E C T O R

The Comedy School has been delivering projects within the Criminal Justice System since it was founded. We deliver workshops, residencies and shows based on performance and other arts skills to prisons, Young Offenders' Institutions and secure units. The art forms are used as educational and rehabilitative tools. All activities are devised to address the specific needs of offenders.

Comedy is an accessible, inclusive and popular medium. As such, it offers great benefits to course participants. Our experience has shown that groups find comedy, across a variety of art forms, challenging, exhilarating and that they achieve a genuine sense of achievement. By making learning fun, The Comedy School approach often attracts participants who may shy away from the more traditional forms of education classes and training.

The Comedy School workshops provide a supportive and stimulating environment in which participants can learn different creative techniques, which help them to express themselves. Many of our participants have not previously explored their talents in the arts.

Workshops can facilitate teamwork, develop negotiation skills, raise self-esteem, improve employability skills, create a forum for analysing issues around a range of issues, such as peer pressure, cultural contexts and social behaviour.

We work alongside appropriate prison staff to incorporate key / basic skills and Open College Network qualifications into our programmes, such as social skills, performance skills and literacy skills. An example of this can be found Getting Our Act Together: Literacy Through Drama in Prisons.

The Comedy School works across all art forms, frequently running sessions exploring:

  • Stand Up Comedy
  • Drama
  • Creating Comedy Sketches
  • Improvisation
  • Mask Work
  • Physical Theatre
  • Visual Arts
  • Drumming
  • Rapping
  • Music
  • Video and Film Documentation
  • Creative Writing
  • Dance

    We aim to be flexible in our approach and always tailor projects to an institution's specific needs, ranging from Taster Sessions through to full production projects.

    Examples of frequently booked projects are:

  • The Variety Pack:
    a series of introductory workshops in various art forms over several days

  • Stand Up and Comedy Performance:
    a workshop leading up to a live performance of participants original stand up and sketch material in front of an invited audience, with full staging and technical support provided.

  • The Christmas Cracker:
    a performance by professional comedians, poets and musicians for inmates, to generate a positive atmosphere at this difficult time of year.

    We are also able to provide workshops and performances for staff in the criminal justice system with the aim of improving relations between staff and inmates and raising morale.

    If you wish to discuss your institution's needs, please contact The Comedy School on 0207 486 1844 or Click to Email


    "It was one of the most positive pieces of work I have seen . . . I was very impressed to see how much creative talent was brought out of the young people and the warmth of the professional relationship between The Comedy School and the prison staff. It was a splendid example of a partnership."

    Peter Titley, previously Inspector of Prisons Team.

    "The self esteem and confidence of the young prisoners has greatly increased."

    Liz Vallis, Education Manager, HMP Aylesbury

    "Prison is a dark and miserable place. I wouldn't have got through it without laughter. When you're in an institution your confidence goes. The project showed us we could do things we thought we'd never be able to do."

    Inmate quoted from interview by The Evening Standard.

    "It has been an invaluable experience for the ladies, where they really enjoyed the whole week. There has been quite a buzz generally this week where those who were part of the group work came to share their highlights with me and what they got out of each session. This can only help make our job that much easier. I appreciate the enthusiasm that you brought with you and the potential that you saw and encouraged in each of them."

    Ruth Eagles, Education Manager, HMP Cookham Wood

    The Ambassadors Programme

    The Comedy School is committed to continuing to work with participants on its courses in prisons when they return to the community, where it would be beneficial to their personal development, training or employability.

    Personalised sessions or programmes of work are designed with individual ex-offenders. In return, they become Ambassadors, meeting with young people at risk of offending to talk about their experiences of the criminal justice system, as part of an early intervention strategy. All participants on The Ambassadors Programme are risk assessed.


    "It was a fantastic session. We, the staff, have never known them all to be so quiet all at the same time for over an hour, so that in itself was a major achievement. The students thoroughly enjoyed it and are still talking about what they heard. All of the students gave positive feedback regarding the visit and all commented on how it had made them stop and think about their own lives and the consequences of their actions."

    Maria Morgan, Course Manager Entry Link, Southgate College

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    Click to view this documentary, seen on BBC Television, showing the preparation and performance of a comedy show by inmates of Brixton Prison in London.

    Comedy course promotes learning through laughter

    Laughter: a common denominator, an icebreaker and for some in Her Majesty's prisons, an eye-opener.

    Click here to
    read this article

    A performer at
    HMP Pentonville

    Prisoners Education Trust provides learning opportunities for offenders in custody, and promotes to the importance of offender education.