Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


IAS Laughter: Laughing Gas - Science and Satire in Nineteenth-century Medical Culture

26 April 2019, 6:00 pm–8:30 pm

laughing gas

The evening will consist of a lecture by Caroline Rance interspersed with comic songs and monologues sourced from the Victorian music hall and sung by Matthew Crampton. A wine reception will follow.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Alistair Robinson


Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret
9a St Thomas Street
United Kingdom

Join us at the Old Operating Theatre Museum where we will be investigating the relationship between comedy and medicine in nineteenth-century Britain. Through topics ranging from body snatching and quack doctors, to hypochondria and laughing gas, we will explore the anxieties that clustered around Victorian medical practices, and how these were addressed and often overturned through laughter.


Caroline Rance runs www.thequackdoctor.com, which investigates the stories behind patent medicines and health fraud in history. Her book The Quack Doctor: Historical Remedies for All Your Ills looks at nineteenth-century British quacks, and The History of Medicine in 100 Facts takes a concise tour through medicine's long past. Caroline has a passion for communicating historical research through accessible and entertaining narratives.

Matthew Crampton is a storyteller, writer and folk singer. His 2017 show The Transports toured Britain and was featured as an evening concert on BBC Radio 3. He recently toured a show based on his book Human Cargo: stories and songs of emigration, slavery & transportation. Based in London, Matthew has a particular interest in Music Hall and often performs songs and monologues from the 'Alls. You can find him on matthewcrampton.com or on Twitter @MatthewCrampton.

The event is sponsored by the Institute of Advanced Studies and by the Octagon Small Grants Fund.

Octagon Small Grants Fund