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Next generation of comedians graduate from the Fringe Comedy Academy


  • Unique event aimed at finding new Scottish comedy talent, hosted by Susan Morrison
  • Class of 2013 perform to a full house at the Stand in the Virgin Money Comedy Academy Master class

Tuesday evening saw the graduation from the Virgin Money Comedy Academy, class of 2013 at The Stand Comedy Club in Edinburgh.

In keeping with the great tradition of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Comedy Academy is all about unearthing new talent. Many comedians have gone onto great things after honing their skills at the Fringe.

The Comedy Academy opened in May 2013 to aspiring young comedians with an EH postcode aged between 18 and 25, and classes since then have been have been led by seasoned comics, with the expert guidance of course tutor Susan Morrison.

For 25 year old Dan Heap, the Comedy Academy proved the perfect environment to develop his fledgling comedy talents. Dan, along with eight other lucky young comedians, has taken part in the 10 week course which looks at everything from how to walk on stage, sketch-writing techniques and how to develop improvisation skills.

Dan decided to apply for this year’s Comedy Academy because it would provide him with a perfect platform to improve on and develop his skills.

Dan said: “Having just started out in comedy, I felt I needed some help in getting up and running and in polishing my act; the Virgin Money Comedy Academy came at exactly the right time. The lessons on stagecraft, writing material, compering, sketch and the comedy industry have given me schooling in all aspects of comedy and have equipped me brilliantly for the future."

Dan rates Stewart Lee and Wanda Sykes amongst his influences and he and his fellow pupils have been working towards their appearance at the Comedy Academy Master Class, which took place at The Stand Venue.

Dan said: “I think I speak for everyone this year when I say that Susan Morrison has been fantastic - she is so knowledgeable and supportive. The Academy helps develop your act with the help of some of the most experienced comics in the business. It is a great testament to Susan and the other tutors that my routine has improved beyond recognition in just a few weeks.”

After graduating from the ten week master class, Dan hopes to be following in the footsteps of former Academy graduate Eleanor Morton:

Since graduating from the Virgin Money Comedy Academy, Eleanor Morton’s star has continued to rise and the 21 year old, whose own brand of musical comedy interspersed with low energy mumblings, has even played to packed-out audiences at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) in-between studying for her English and Scottish Literature Course at Glasgow University.

leanor said: “When I played the EICC it was quite surreal and part of a huge comedy gala. However the lessons that I learnt being part of last year’s Comedy Academy really helped. I have always wanted to do comedy and the academy gave me that platform. I think Virgin Money and the other partners deserve a huge thank you for continuing to provide a platform for the next generation of young Scottish comedians.”

The Virgin Money Comedy Academy allowed Eleanor to develop her style of comedy and she received invaluable feedback from comedians such as Scotland’s own Fred Macaulay.

She said “Performing to people I admire was tough but the feedback was great and I have learnt a lot from these guys. I must also thank Susan Morrison, she is a real star.”

This year’s intake of comedians were supported on the evening by Lee Ridley, otherwise known as the ‘Lost Voice Guy’ and who is taking the Fringe by storm. Lee suffers from Cerebral Palsy and uses an iPad to communicate his distinctive brand of humour.

Course ‘headmistress’ Susan Morrison said: “It's fantastic to get this opportunity to see the rising comedy stars of the future. The material that these guys bring to the table is so fresh and it’s great to see that so many young people want to get into comedy. “

Andrew Nicholson, Head of Sponsorship at Virgin Money said: “The Comedy Academy is in its third year and Virgin Money is proud to support this grass-roots initiative. The Academy gives young people such as Eleanor and Dan who want to make a career out of comedy, the chance to hone their talent and work with professionals. The Comedy Academy is an excellent platform for them to learn from professionals in a safe and supportive environment.”

Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society Kath M Mainland said: “One of the aims of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society is to try and provide all of our participants with opportunities for professional development. The professional development for the students of the Comedy Academy has involved advice from agents, bookers and other comedy industry types as well as the lessons in being funny from top class, working comedians. Thanks to the generous support of our partners this course, which is absolutely free, could make a huge difference to a young comic's career."

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival, with 2,695 shows from 47 different countries this year.

As well as the Comedy Academy, Virgin Money are working with the Fringe as sponsors of the Fringe on the High Street and the Half Price Hut. Virgin Money is also sponsoring the world famous Fireworks Concert, which marks the conclusion of the Edinburgh International Festival.

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Media Contacts
Virgin Money Press Office
Tel: 0191 279 4676

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society Media Office
Tel : 0131 240 1919
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