Blackpool comedian aims to help young people get their big break with new Open Up the Mic project
Growing up in a B&B in North Shore – with Blackpool as the capital of entertainment at her fingertips – made Ruth Cockburn who she is today.
The 37-year-old comedian is hoping to break down barriers for people looking to make it in comedy and the arts by working with the Showtown museum team on a new project, Open Up
Ruth, who went to St Aidan’s High School and Blackpool and The Fylde College to do a BTech in Performing Arts, said: “I’m very proud to be from this weird and wonderful place.
“Growing up in a town that celebrates entertainment, reveres eccentrics and canonises comedians, has definitely had an effect on who I am. It made me who I am today.
“I am a comedian, writer and performing artist. I love my job, and I know I am very lucky to be able to say this.
“I’ve had the opportunity to perform all over the world, but I still love performing in Blackpool – whether it be at The Comedy Station behind the Tower or at The Grand Theatre – nothing
beats a home crowd.
“This is why I am so proud to be working with Showtown on a project called Open Up the Mic; leading workshops for the young people of Blackpool and teaching them the skills needed to
become the next generation of comedians.”
Ahead of International Women’s Day on Monday, March 8, Ruth credits comedians such as Victoria Wood Hylda Baker and Caroline Ahern as her inspiration.
Ruth, who now lives in St Annes, said: “Growing up I was exposed to all sorts of artists; from recordings of Joyce Grenfell, to shows about Hylda Baker at the Grand Theatre, from
Saturday nights in front of the telly watching Victoria Wood and Caroline Aherne, to sitting at the Fringe Festival watching Jenny Éclair.
“I saw these strong, funny, Northern women and I wanted to be just like them.
“I was inspired by Joyce Grenfell, Hylda Baker and Victoria Wood’s turn of phrase, Caroline Ahern’s social commentary and Jenny Eclair’s unwavering honesty.
“So much of their language and mannerisms have found their way into everyday language.
“In fact my family still use a Hylda Baker quote every year when the ‘Blackpool hallucinations’ get switched on.
“These performers changed the fabric of comedy. Being a woman was never a hindrance to becoming a comedian in my mind.
“It was only when I went out on to the comedy circuit and experienced the harsh reality that I realised it might be a struggle.
“From audience members informing me that, ‘I don’t like female comics but you were alright’ or promoters asserting that, ‘the venue doesn’t like female comics so I can’t book you.’
“However, it is not only gender that can get in the way of being a success in comedy and the arts.
“Class, education and access to the arts is also a barrier and whilst working with Showtown, Head Start and Brighter Minds I hope we can start to eliminate those obstacles.”
Showtown, Blackpool’s £13m museum, is expected to open in the Sands building in 2022. Open Up the Mic – one of its flagship projects in partnership with the Headstart team –is a 12
week comedy course for up to 15 young people which is due to start in May.
Within the museum, comedian Hylda Baker will be celebrated with a display of one of her iconic tartan costumes that she wore on stage in Blackpool, which will be on loan from Lancashire
County Council Museum Service. Showtown also hopes to shine a light on Victoria Wood and other recent female comedians in audio-visual presentations.
Ruth added: “Blackpool’s town motto is, ‘Progress’ and what a better way to live up to that than showing the world how progressive we are; celebrating strong women on International
“Proving that women can be funny; they can be strong... and they can be unashamedly Northern.”
For more information about Showtown, visit www.showtownblackpool.co.uk
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