Why Do We Laugh?

  • Free
  • Workshop
  • 14 to 19-year-olds
  • Speech-to-text
  • British Sign Language
  • Audio described
An open laptop on a desk with the image of artist Jamie Hale on the screen
Why do We Laugh?, Photo: Thomas SG Farnetti. Portrait of Jamie Hale by Steven Pocock. Source: Wellcome Collection. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0).

What you’ll do

Join artist Jamie Hale and neuroscientist Professor Sophie Scott in conversation as they explore how emotions are created in both the body and the brain.  

What happens when we experience laughter and happiness and what does that tell us about ourselves. For example, why might we laugh most freely when we are with close family and friends?  

You’ll be able to join in the discussions and ask questions. Then you’ll have the opportunity to share your own experiences and take part in creative activities based on the ideas raised.  

This is a relaxed event. Cameras can be on or off as needed. You can move around and make noise at any time. If you need to dip in and out of the session, you can. There will be multiple ways to communicate, ask questions and participate (such as using the chat function if you do not want to use your voice).  

If you have any access requests or requirements, for example a transcript of the event, email us at  access@wellcomecollection.org or call 020 7611 2222.  

This workshop is for 14- to 19-year-olds. It is limited to 16 places and booking is essential. You will be given joining instructions for Zoom in your confirmation email. 

About your contributors

Photograph of a white person with short brown hair and a short beard. They are wearing glasses and a checked blue shirt.

Jamie Hale


Jamie is an artist, curator, and founder and artistic director of disability arts organisation CRIPtic Arts. They create poetry, comedy, scriptwriting and drama for page, stage and screen, and are currently directing a showcase at the Barbican Centre for autumn 2021 and a disability arts documentary. They have written for Wellcome Collection and the Guardian newspaper and have performed at venues including the Southbank Centre. Their poetry pamphlet, ‘Shield’, was published in January 2021.

Black and white headshot of neuroscientist Professor Sophie Scott

Professor Sophie Scott


Sophie is the Director of the Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London. She studies human brains and human communication. She is particularly interested in how we use our voices in social interactions, and has done a lot of work on laughter and its use in communication. She gave the Royal Society Christmas Lectures in 2017.

Graphic logo for the Young People's Forum, made up of teal and red speech bubbles containing the white letters Y P F.

Young People's Forum


Young people from Great Ormond Street Hospital’s Young People’s Forum were advisors and co-creators on this project, helping design the content and activity.  



Need to know

Guaranteed (online)

Booking a ticket guarantees you entry to the online event. You will be given joining instructions in your confirmation email. If you have any access requests or requirements, for example a transcript of the event, email us at access@wellcomecollection.org or call 020 7611 2222.


This event will have live speech-to-text transcription which may be useful for people who are D/deaf, hard of hearing, deafened or neurodiverse. The text will be embedded in the event video window and ticketholders will also receive a link to open subtitles in a separate window.

British Sign Language

This event is British Sign Language interpreted. An interpreter will be embedded in the event stream/visible to all attendees and will interpret what is discussed into BSL for d/Deaf, hard of hearing and deafened attendees.

Audio described

The host and speakers will describe themselves and key visual elements they refer to, which may be useful for blind, partially sighted and neurodiverse attendees. There will not be a separate audio description track.

Our event terms and conditions