Athena and Showdown

Writer and stand-up comedian Athena Kugblenu is penning the script for Showdown – Upswing’s new project in development.

Athena is one of those rare souls that can make you gasp, laugh out loud, and think about something on a deeper level – all at the same time. Her trademark style of storytelling involves artfully creating tension and then cutting through it, often with something unexpected and hilariously ridiculous.

She is writing the script for Showdown – Upswing’s newest circus project, co-produced by Chamäleon Berlin, and premiering there in feb 2024.

Showdown is a playful satire that follows 7 aspiring acrobats as they battle it out to become ‘The New Face of Circus’. Athena is on board to help ensure the cast and creatives are able to communicate a clear message throughout the show.

By playing with text, words and humour, Athena is helping us to anchor down the meaning of the show and find ways to make sure our audiences feel fully involved, rather than feeling excluded by the ideas and the collective conversation.

A woman wearing a bright pink jacket speaks into a microphone that she is holding.

Upswing first collaborated with Athena in 2019 when she hosted our Circus Circus Circus mixed-bill performance show at Hoxton Hall – bringing her unique and acute comic observations to a wildly entertaining evening.  This first collaboration was followed by Vicki Dela joining Athena on her podcast Keeping Athena Company.

We are thrilled to have Athena sharing in the Showdown creative project – using her humour to bring clarity to a nuanced subject matter.


Athena’s first two full-length stand-up shows garnered her critical acclaim and led to her becoming a panellist on Mock the Week and co-host on Loose Ends and The Guilty Feminist, as well as supporting Daliso Chaponda, Nish Kumar and Fern Brady on tour.

A member of the BBC Comedy Room and regular BBC Radio 4 host, her 2021 series Athena’s Cancel Culture is available on the BBC Sounds app, and she was awarded the BBC Felix Dexter Bursary for Black/Ethnically Diverse up-and-coming comedy writers in 2020. She also hosts her own podcast: Keeping Athena Company and DMs are Open, Radio 4’s only open submission topical comedy sketch show. 

Her upcoming live dates are available here.


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