Dr Ray Campbell

Staff details

Ray teaches and researches stand-up comedy performance and its role in society

Ray is a lecturer, stand-up comedian, performer, and artist, who currently lectures on the BA Comedy and Satire course. He has over 20 years of teaching experience and has taught Sociology, Psychosocial Studies and Media Studies at the University of East London and teaches Humanities at Royal Holloway, University of London. Admittedly, these fields of study may appear unrelated to Theatre and Performance, but to understand the role of the arts in culture and society, one must conduct sociological, philosophical and psychological inquiries into the nature of performance and its audiences.

In addition to teaching, Ray has been working as a professional stand-up comedian and impressionist since 1987. He has appeared on the same bills as the likes of Harry Hill, Jo Brand, Mark Thomas, Hattie Hayridge and Peter Kay, and played clubs like Banana Cabaret and Up the Creek in London, and the Frog and Bucket in Manchester. Ray also played Goldsmiths College Student Union in the 1990s!

Academic qualifications

  • BA (Hons) Creative Arts, Drama major, Northumbria University at Newcastle-upon-Tyne 1989
  • PGCE (Post-16), Institute of Education, UCL 2000
  • MA Media, Culture and Communication, Institute of Education, UCL 2005
  • PhD Cultural Studies, University of East London 2017

Teaching and supervision

BA (Hons) Drama: Comedy and Satire

Research interests

Reasearch interests include:
• Stand-up comedy, discourse and ideology
• Avant-garde art and performance
• Cultures of resistance, rebellion, and subversion
• Cabaret culture
• Black British comedy
• Stand-up comedy and shamanism
• Punk and post-punk cultures
• Timing in comedy and music

Forthcoming publications:
The Story of Cabaret A Go Go. Chapter in Alternative Comedy Now and Then (eds. Oliver Double and Sharon Lockyer). Due for publication late 2021 (Springer)

You Call That Entertainment? (working title) Book due for publication in late 2022 (Liverpool University Press).

Conferences and talks

2011: The Comedy of the Spectacle
Poster (MeCCSA annual conference) at University of Bedfordshire

2012: Hegemony, Censorship and Satire
Talk (International Comedy Conference) at Manchester Metropolitan University

2013: Subcultural styles of alternative comedians
Talk (MeCCSA annual conference) at Bournemouth University

2015: Comic cultures
Talk (MeCCSA PG Netwrok conference) at UEA

2016: Post-punk and alternative cabaret: Avant-garde, counterculture and revolution
Talk at University of Kent

2019: The Story of Cabaret A Go Go
Talk at University of Kent

Additional information

Ray was awarded his PhD in Cultural Studies in 2019. The title of his thesis is Comic Cultures: Commerce, Aesthetics and the Politics of Stand-Up Performance in the UK 1979 to 1992, which situates alternative cabaret (as distinct to alternative comedy) in the post-punk countercultural and avant-garde milieu of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

He has appeared as a professional comedian and voice artist on BBC2, BBC Radios 2 & 4 and Channel 5.

Ray promotes a monthly comedy club called Dr Chuckles’ Laughter Clinic at the West London Trade Union Club, London W3. He is also a judge for, and compères, the heats for the long-running New Act of The Year Show (NATYS), which has now returned to the Hackney Empire.

Ray also promotes and organizes exhibitions of visual art and is currently working on an ongoing photographic project about the abandoned bikes of London.

Ray is also a keen cyclist and a fully qualified cycling instructor.