James Acaster returns to Kettering to take aspiring comedians on work experience

He's joined forces with a charity to launch a training programme for students in his hometown

By Sam Wildman
Monday, 21st March 2022, 11:40 am

For many teenagers work experience involves them sitting at a desk in an office, making the tea and shadowing another employee.

But five students at Kettering Science Academy (KSA) are learning how to be a stand-up comedian from one of the best - after James Acaster helped launch a training workshop for state school students in his hometown.

The 37-year-old, who grew up in Kettering and went to Montagu School, has returned to the town after joining forces with social mobility charity Speakers for Schools.

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James Acaster with Wicky Bear

He wants to inspire students and coach them on the art of making people laugh, having once benefited from a workshop in Kettering when he was younger.

He said: "Work experience doesn’t have to be in an office or corporate environment. For young people hoping to follow a different career path, it can be tough finding any opportunities that help you get there.

“Back when I was first starting out in comedy, I managed to attend a workshop in Kettering which enabled me to grow in ability and confidence.

"This is exactly what I wanted to replicate with this programme, helping students find their individual voices and hopefully achieve their dreams.”

James Acaster.

Running throughout March, the programme involves five in-depth sessions where the students will work closely with James.

They will practise, develop and learn the fundamentals of a good stand-up routine as well as being equipped with vital skills like confidence, creativity and resilience.

The programme culminates with a live performance at the school delivered to James, along with two of his comedy friends, where they will give final rounds of tips and advice.

One of the students taking part, 14-year-old Catherine Abrahams, said: "I have always been interested in performing arts and I am really pleased to have this opportunity to improve my comedic skills and stage presence.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have the opportunity to be coached by a famous comedian.

"James has been so supportive during our workshops, and I know I’m not alone when I say that we all really appreciate him taking the time to share his advice and top tips."

Tony Segalini, principal of Kettering Science Academy, said: “I am really pleased to support James Acaster with this project. It is a unique and outstanding opportunity that I feel is really beneficial for our students to help with their knowledge of employment and employability, leading to the right career choice.

"This forms a large part of our personal development programme at KSA, one which is vital to educate the citizens of tomorrow.”

Speakers for Schools has high-flying speakers covering business, academia, the arts and politics who deliver inspirational talks to state school students nationwide, but this represents the first-ever work experience initiative it has delivered with a celebrity.

Jason Elsom, chief executive officer at Speakers for Schools, said: “We are utterly delighted to collaborate with James on our first-ever celebrity work experience initiative, developing a bespoke comedy workshop that gives state school students a truly unique opportunity to boost their CVs.

"Having arranged over 60,000 work experience opportunities in the last 18 months, we know first-hand the impact they have on young peoples’ futures.

"James really has gone above and beyond with this programme, giving up his time to ensure young people in his hometown have a rare and engaging career opportunity that equips them with vital life-skills such as confidence, creativity and adaptability.”