Published: Wed 6 Dec 23

Soho’s Comedy Lab inspires 16-19 year-olds to pursue careers in comedy

This autumn, five comedy newcomers aged 16-19 spent a week at ours, trying their hand at stand-up, sketches, improvisation and character development.

The Comedy Skills Lab was led by award-winning comedian Archie Maddocks, with guest artists including our very own Comedy Associate Lee Griffiths.

At the end of the week, we caught up with Archie and the young participants, to see how it went.

One of Archie’s first tasks was to create a welcoming and supportive space for the participants. Archie said: ‘I let them find their own way and adapted to who they were and how they interacted. We did lots of warm up games and bonding games, which helped to get them out of their heads and be in the moment. I encouraged them to work with the people in the room with different energies and to have open discussions about what they liked and didn’t like.’

These exercises laid the foundations for group cooperation and collaboration. One of the participants said: ‘Working with the group I was able to feed off everyone’s energy and suggestions, which put me in a more creative mindset.’

During the week Archie noticed how on one hand the young people were confident, but on the other they were shy though willing to push themselves. ‘They were really good at following their thoughts through further than older students might have, and when it worked it was great. It was lovely seeing them hit upon something fun and organic that they didn’t expect to find.’

For Archie, the highlight of the week was how animated they became when they struck on something they weren’t expecting, and ‘seeing their eyes light up.’ Archie also noticed how positively it affected the group to have a bit of an audience in the room, something he’d like to build in the next time the course takes place.

All the participants agreed that they had a great week.

One of them said: ‘I loved the workshop, it was fun, practical and helped give me insight on how comedians or sketch artists do what they do. I loved working with others to create pieces. I also loved creating characters and putting them into scenarios together. It was fun to see everyone grow through the week, and say crude stuff when they realised they wouldn’t get in trouble! The highlight of my week was when we tried stand up comedy, it was fun to see what people had made.’

At the end of the week all participants expressed an interest in working in comedy. One said: ‘I think I’ll pursue a career as a comedian or something in the comedy sector like a sketch artist.’ Another said; ‘I’m going to explore writing and performing sketch comedy more and try to find people to collaborate with.’

In fact, the Lab was so successful that Soho is planning another Comedy Skills Lab for young people next year. Archie said: ‘I’d encourage anyone with an interest in performing to come and check out a Lab because it’s a safe space, where people can thrive and try stuff out in the best way possible.’

All participants agreed it’s a great course to do if you’re interested in comedy: ‘I would absolutely recommend it to others, it was great.’

Applications for our next Comedy Skills Lab open in spring 2024. To register your interest, email

‘It was fun to see everyone grow through the week, and say crude stuff, when they realised they wouldn't get in trouble!’
Comedy Skills Lab 2023 participant