Our Anniversary Show

Nearly two weeks have passed since our amazing anniversary show. A massive


to all the performers, to the wonderful Steve Cross and Tom Goodliffe, and most importantly to you, our Bright Club audience. We wouldn’t be here without you, so thanks for sticking with us!

Here are some of my (website admin) favourite photos from the night (you can see all the photos from the past 5 shows here).



In the beginning, there was also Nikhil and Dave.

In celebration of Bright Club Southampton’s first birthday, I also asked Nikhil and Dave, who performed at the first show and have been a part of the committee since the beginning, to share their thoughts.

Nikhil said:

“I had just started a PhD and these emails came flying in from Jess about doughnuts, nachos, ‘quaking in my boots’, stand-up comedy and research. I had been involved in outreach and engagement in Southampton during my undergraduate studies, and I thought this was something cool, new and definitely worth getting involved with.

Originally, I didn’t think about performing; I just wanted the thrill of running a show in Southampton. Having been in Southampton since 2009, it was clear that the city needed more entertainment. Further, academics needed to be shown that engagement doesn’t have to mean serious conferences and lectures – they can communicate with the public in so many different ways. I’m passionate about ‘de-jargoning’ research and making it accessible to the public, so they can appreciate the work that goes on in academia. That’s why we run our public communication and comedy skills workshop, which are open to everyone, before each show.

Performing in the first show was such an incredible experience! The professional comperes and headliners we hire warm up the audience so that no researcher goes down like a lead balloon. I would recommend Bright Club to all researchers, as it’s the easiest way to try comedy without the fear of a harsh audience!

Our committee is awesome, and like a little family to me. Everyone has their own invaluable qualities, and working with them makes putting on these continuously brilliant shows so much fun! I didn’t really know many people at the start of my PhD as most of my friends moved after graduation, but I met SO MANY PEOPLE through Bright Club; the postgrads that perform for us, the business owners who help us run the shows, local newspaper journalists, and even DJs from BBC Radio Solent.

I think Bright Club is a breath of fresh air to Southampton, academia, public engagement and the people who come to see us! It’s fun, exciting, new, and has continued to grow in popularity, as evidenced by our ever-increasing audience. We are especially excited to welcome Steve Cross, the founder of Bright Club, to compering our anniversary show this Friday.”

Dave said:

“I first came across Bright Club a few years ago, when I heard the podcasts recorded and released by Steve Cross and the original Bright Club team in London. I loved the idea and wished there could be something like it in Southampton. So I jumped at the chance when I received Jess’s email about setting up Bright Club Southampton. By this time, I was just finishing my PhD and knew I wanted to get more involved in public engagement, regardless of what I did next. Also, being a stand-up comedy nerd, I loved the idea of being involved in the running of a comedy night!

But then I did something I hadn’t expected myself to do – I volunteered to perform at the first show. I can’t understate how nervous I was before the show, how great I felt once I got going and how much of a buzz I felt after finishing. Since that first show, I’m really proud that we’ve put on 3 more fantastic shows each with a roughly 50/50 split of people who work for one of the universities in Southampton and people from the wider public. This is an outreach project and I think it’s an important achievement that we are reaching out and not just talking to other university people.

Our anniversary show will include our first performer from Solent University, and I look forward to many more Solent academics making us laugh about their work at future shows. Also, to bring it back to the start of my relationship with Bright Club, I’ve been recording podcasts with some of our previous performers, which I hope to release in the not too distant future!”

We’ve come a long way in a year, and we cannot wait to celebrate with you this Friday. Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start, and tickets are still available here.



In the beginning, there was Jess.

Seeing as the anniversary of the first show was this week, I asked Bright Club Southampton founder Jess Spurrell if she could share the story of how Bright Club came to Southampton. Here’s what she had to say:

“Over a year ago, I was talking to an English student at a Feminist Society meeting, the theme of which was ‘Women in Science’. “I always liked science,” she said to me, “but I also knew that English was my thing and that’s what I would study. Though I do miss science.” This got me thinking: the choices we make when we leave school are far more limiting than we realise. As an adult working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) it’s fairly easy to continue an interest via evening classes and social groups in the arts, in learning a language, in history or philosophy or many other subjects. However, for those that don’t choose the STEM path, there is no easy way to continue feeding an interest – particularly an active interest rather than the passive reading of tech magazines etc. – in these areas. There are no evening classes in Aerodynamic Structures, for example, no weekly meetings in the village hall of ‘Crafts and Quantum Mechanics’ (or, at least, none that I’m aware of!). And so, I started mulling over this new challenge: STEM outreach for adults.

Some months later I find myself on a train watching over someone’s shoulder as they created an origami leaflet for ‘Maths Stand-Up’. Maths, combined with stand-up comedy. Stand-up comedy combined with origami…Maths AND stand-up AND origami? Surely this can only be a good thing! The next thing I know I’m navigating the maze that was Reading train station in middle of refurbishment deep in conversation with Matt Parker (of Festival of the Spoken Nerd and Things to Make and Do in the 4th Dimension) about this ‘outreach for adults’ idea and he tells me about Bright Club.

Bright Club, which started in UCL, takes researchers – and not just from STEM backgrounds – and puts them on a stage, in front the general public, where they do stand-up comedy about their research. The original club in London has been running for more than 6 years and the idea has spread to Manchester, Glasgow, Guildford, Belfast – even Sydney, Australia! ‘What about Southampton?’ I muse…

Fortunately, the University of Southampton has an excellent, enthusiastic and well-connected public engagement team so when I took the idea to them they did two crucial things: they put me in touch with two other PhD students who also mentioned a desire to start a Bright Club in Southampton; and they offered their support – “If you run it, we’ll back it.”

This second point is what made all the difference. For, when two students (Paul Gow and Joe Spencer) had tried to start a Bright Club Southampton previously, all they hit were brick walls. But this time those brick walls weren’t there, all the obstacles faced were overcome, and many obstacles that could easily have been there, this time, weren’t. Which is why Bright Club finally came to Southampton.

One year on we have an ever growing committee of enthusiastic PhD students, post docs and university staff from both the University of Southampton and Southampton Solent University. Nikhil Mistry, who performed in our very first show, has been running Bright Club since the first event and has done an incredible job. I cannot wait to see how much Bright Club continues to grow in the coming years.”

Anniversary Show Update

Bright Club Southampton celebrated its first birthday on the 26th July. That’s right, we have been around for one whole year! You can relive our first ever show here.

We would love to see as many of you as possible at our anniversary gig. You can book tickets here, or turn up at 6.30pm on the night (Friday 5th August, which is just over ONE WEEK away) to buy tickets on the door.

We are excited to announce that the following researchers will be performing at our anniversary gig:

Ali Hill – Chilis as a pain reliever
Craig Dolder – Acoustics or something like that
Nina Meddings – Don’t break the china! Making better batteries
Matt Coffin – Stuff and Autism
Maia Elliott – Epigenetics

See you all there, and thanks for helping us celebrate our birthday.

Meet the Performers

Hello all and happy Friday!

Those eagle eyed website viewers amongst you will notice that the website admin has given our website a bit of a revamp. Repeat visitors may even notice that there is a new menu.

I would encourage you all to have a look in our brand new ‘Performer Bios’ menu, and meet some of our past performers. The bios also have links to the performers videos (except for performers from the third show, where we had slight technical issues!), and also have some pictures of these lovely folk that have already made you chuckle (although we seem be lacking pictures from show two, sorry!).

Enjoy 🙂

Our Fourth Event

Hello everyone,

Firstly, to return visitors, thanks for coming back to our website. To new visitors, welcome!

Well, what can we say but a big


to all of you lovely folk who came to our fourth event on Friday. It was fantastic to see you all there. A special thank you to our amazing performers, without you Bright Club would not be possible.

We’ve not even been around a year and we’ve already done our fourth event. We can’t quite believe it, but you can be sure all the Bright Club committee slept well on Saturday night.

We had 6 performers talking about a range of subjects from particle physics to plankton! We even had a maths teacher singing pop songs hah! Highlights will be on YouTube soon 🙂

There is no rest for the wicked, however, as today we have added photos from all the past events (which you can find under ‘Photos‘… very original we know!).

We have also already started to think about our fifth event. Watch this space for details!