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Brushing Up on Laughter: What Art Curators Can Learn from Stand-Up Comedians

05 February 2024

Brushing Up on Laughter: What Art Curators Can Learn from Stand-Up Comedians

I’m delighted that Artfundi was selected to attend and exhibit at Websummit Qatar 2024. One of their invited Stage speakers is the inimitable standup comedian, Trevor Noah. I’m a big fan of Trevor’s because he is wonderfully funny, and we share a country of birth, South Africa. Also I’m in awe of his ability to connect with audiences across the globe.

It is an huge challenge to take stories out of their home country context into a very different cultural context, and still create relevance and meaningful connection. Trevor manages to find universal human truths, and engage audiences globally.

It got me thinking if there is anything art curators, aiming to connect with global audiences, can learn from him, and the art of standup comedy in general. 

In the world of art curation, where selected artworks meet meticulous arrangement, there is an unexpected muse for inspiration – stand-up comedians. Drawing parallels between the precision of art curation and the comedic finesse of talents like Trevor Noah offers a canvas of insights that we can apply to stretch ourselves to connect with art audiences ever more effectively. 

1. The Art of Timing:

Just as a punchline hits best with perfect timing, so does the placement of artworks in an exhibit. Explore the comedy of synchronicity to master the art of timing in a visual narrative.

Tip: Create a visual rhythm by strategically placing artworks with varying sizes, colours, and themes. Consider the pacing of the exhibition – guide visitors through a narrative that unfolds with each carefully timed masterpiece, utilising pause to deliver emphasis.

2. Curating Emotions:

Comedians navigate a spectrum of emotions, crafting a rollercoaster of laughter. Similarly, art curators can curate a gallery experience that takes visitors on an emotional journey. Discover the brushstrokes of emotion and connection that leave a lasting impression.

Tip: Identify the emotional core of each artwork and arrange them in a way that tells a cohesive story. Aim to elicit a range of emotions, that lead to contemplation, as visitors traverse through the curated spac