Aged only 25, Emma Holmes is the founder of the well-known Wageningen Comedy Club. Originally from the UK and a former student of Van Hall Larenstein university of applied sciences, she now performs as a comedian and organizes empowerment storytelling workshops in Wageningen and beyond.
‘Comedy is so powerful in communicating messages and educating people.’ © Sven Menschel
Back when she was completing her Bachelor’s thesis, Holmes noticed the lack of ‘affordable alternative entertainment’ in Wageningen. ‘Where’s the punk theatre, the poetry, the comedy?’, she would wonder. At the same time, the idea of performing as a comedian herself started to grow. Holmes, who is originally from the UK but lived in France from the age of 11, completed her BSc in Food Technology in 2015.
In a dorm room
Before the comedy club was even an idea, she received an invitation by a comedian to perform — for the first time in her life — in Wageningen. This initial attempt at stand-up comedy was ‘terrifying’, she says. However, that did not stop her. After this first experience, she posted a message on Facebook to see whether students would be interested in watching comedy or even performing themselves. The support she received was massive, so she started giving workshops.
The first workshops in March 2015 took place in a dorm room, where three people with no experience in comedy would meet to figure out where to start. Only a few months later, in October 2015, the Wageningen Comedy Club hosted its first stand-up comedy night. Emma and her team welcomed a much larger audience – mainly students – than they were expecting. In fact, they somehow managed to fit in around 50 more people than the venue’s official capacity. Since then, they have put on at least one show every month, most of which are sold out with audiences of over 100 people.
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Holmes got the inspiration for hosting storytelling shows in 2017 after visiting a storytelling event in Amsterdam. She recently also teamed up with Jessica Duncan, Teacher of the Year in 2017, to organize special storytelling evenings on diversity and integration that also empower social minorities.
In addition to the comedy and storytelling shows, Holmes now also organizes improvisation shows. The performers are not just people who have attended her workshops; she also invites professional comedians from all over the Netherlands and even from abroad. Holmes also organizes and hosts corporate workshops for team-building, presentation skills and empowerment, and runs a theatre company. Her business extends beyond Wageningen since she recreates many of her shows in other Dutch cities.
Although Holmes says that ‘working for yourself is hard’, she loves her job and she already has a few plans for the future of her company. She intends to stay in Wageningen though, which she really likes. According to her, ‘in Wageningen you’ll always find support for anything new you want to accomplish’.
To this day, she still gets nervous before performing. But comedy has changed her life by making her more content, more balanced and more confident. As Holmes describes it, performing has given her an outlet for her hyper-energetic self. ‘Comedy is so powerful in communicating messages and educating people, and I think that is something I would like to explore more over the next few years,’ she adds.
If you are interested in joining one of the weekly workshops, go to Holmes' Facebookpage.