An Ashington museum has appointed a Comedian in Residence in what is believed to be the first project of its kind anywhere in the world.
Stand-up Comedian Seymour Mace has been chosen to work with staff and visitors at Woodhorn museum in Ashington.
He will spend time at the site talking to visitors, many of whom are ex miners, collecting their memories and drawing out the humour to create a unique performance.
A well-known face on the professional comedy circuit, Mace’s television work has included BBC3’s Ideal and Dave’s One Night Stand. He grew up in the North East and his father worked as a coal miner in the 1970s.
Mace said: “From talking to my Dad and other miners I know that humour played a really important part of their working life in the face of a gruelling and demanding industry.
“The banter and practical jokes that they played on each other formed bonds which helped them deal with the challenges and adversity of their profession. It’s a rich seam for a comedian to explore.”
Woodhorn has secured funding from the Happy Museums Project to explore the role that humour can play in connecting people to each other and their environment.
The Museum already makes good use of the humour of the local mining community which is skilfully interwoven through the permanent displays.
Woodhorn Director Keith Merrin said: “In some museums the only time you hear people laugh is in the café.
“Museums need to be authoritative and respect the histories or objects that they present to visitors.
“Hearing Seymour talk about comedy is like listening to any other artist. He understands the importance of collecting stories, drawing out the humour in them and reinterpreting them in a way that makes people think again about what is being said – and hopefully laugh.”
Visit www.standupforwoodhorn.tumblr.com for more details.