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Liverpool Mental Health Festival presents Still Feeling Funny

by Lydia Judd. Published Fri 06 Oct 2017 08:15, last updated: 06/10/17

A bill of fresh comedic talent graced 81 Renshaw Street, this past Sunday – promoting good mental health through plenty of laughs.

Alumni from the six-week "Feeling Funny" programme, took to the stage to showcase their newly obtained stand-up skills, to an applauding audience.

The programme, ran by The Comedy Trust, aims to tackle the stigma of mental health in men; encouraging them to open up, through the art of stand-up comedy.

Helen Holden from The Comedy Trust explained it is a non-medical alternative to tackling the issue - a sort-of therapy for the men.

The night itself, marked the beginning of Liverpool Mental Health Festival 2017 - a fortnight of free events across the city, which celebrate good mental health and wellbeing. The masterminds behind the festival, are Liverpool Mental Health Consortium.

The organisation have been successfully coordinating activities around World Mental Health Day, on October 10th, since 2010.

Now in its third year, the festival itself is about showcasing dance, art and more across Liverpool.

The opening night was underway after a quick welcome from Helen, and the Consortium's Development Manager, Claire Stevens.

Claire briefly touched upon the need to destigmatize the issue surrounding mental health in men. She said, "It's about challenging negativity and prompting creativity."

Sam from The Comedy Trust took on the role of host, introducing each of the seven acts with witty and friendly banter. The setting was intimate and small; enough space for him and the audience to directly interact between sets. His off the cuff comebacks were quick and light hearted, all of which added to the set up of the night.

First to take the stage was Andy, an instantly likeable and friendly Scouser; the type of guy you would expect to see socialising with everyone at the pub, over a pint. The idea that this man had previously battled with any such mental health issues, seemed hard to believe as he rolled with the laughs. From talk of weight loss, marriage and growing up, Andy brought a comedic spin to some of the most mundane of topics.

As the set went on, Andy relaxed into the jokes and the audience were, little by little, learning more
about the hilariously funny Liverpudlian.

Phil was the next comedian to entertain, with a dry yet clever style to his set. He put a unique spin on conventional stand up, combining comedy with poetry.

His poem about Facebook, was exceptionally funny and relatable; it was stating the obvious which made its reception so successful. His stories were sarcastic and witty, with some classic toilet humour thrown in for good measure.

Following a short interval, and a trip to the bar, it was Mark's time to shine. His hard exterior and Cockney accent could not have been any more deceiving. He was charming and engaging; a real natural joker.

Having just turned 50-years- old, Mark joked about the signs of getting older. From becoming forgettable, to noticing yourself act more like your parents. He seemed comfortable in front of an audience; as though this was second nature to him.

Like many of the performers before him, he made the everyday seem hilarious and relatable. Mark's vasectomy experience was the highlight of the set. His storytelling was second-to- none, as he took the audience on a comical journey from start to finish.

Yet these comedy newcomers have been on a much more significant journey than that. As the night rounded up, with praise and thanks for all seven performers, there was an exceptional shared feeling of positivity around the venue.

Comedy aside, it was a celebration of mental wellbeing and feeling good – acknowledging the men and their personal achievements. They are representative of the benefits of speaking up and stepping out; with a little helping hand from stand up.

It definitely goes to show that laughter really is the best medicine.

Liverpool Mental Health Festival runs until Saturday 14th October.

Full details can be found on the Liverpool Mental Health Consortium website: http://www.liverpoolmentalhealth.org/festival/



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