When I signed up for the Feeling Funny Mums comedy course, I got much more than I bargained for.
While I didn’t quite make it as the new Sarah Millican, I did end up with ten new bezzies! Not that I’m complaining. Who wouldn’t want a harem of hilarious Scouse women to cheer you up when you feel down?
I signed up for the course after spotting a Facebook post calling for Merseyside mums who had experienced postnatal depression or anxiety to come and exercise their chuckle muscles.
The free seven-week programme is run by The Comedy Trust, which was set up in Liverpool to “create happier, healthier people through the power of laughter and comedy.”
It took my fancy because I am a journalist by trade and people are always telling me I’m quite funny (funny ha ha not funny weird… I think…) so I wanted to channel my writing in a new direction.
Plus, I have suffered from anxiety since the birth of my two children and have had a few family problems of late, so I needed a bit of light relief.
They say laughter is the best medicine so before you could say “tattyfilarious” I had filled out the forms and was making my way down to the Quaker Meeting House in Liverpool city centre for my first session.
Held weekly, the sessions are organised by Helen Holden, a mental health and wellbeing project manager for The Comedy Trust, who welcomed us all and made us a lovely cuppa.
She introduced the group of apprehensive mums to professional stand-up comedian Kate Tracey and drama practitioner Rachel Coogan who would spend the next seven weeks guiding us through the basics of stand-up comedy and encourage us to write and perform our own short comedy routine.
Joining me on the course were seven other mums from all walks of life but with one thing in common – very funny bones.
Over the weeks, we spent time getting to know each other, sharing our lives and experiences, ups and downs, the odd rant (mainly me), whilst playing games and taking part in exercises designed to tease those funny stories out.
We got to hear about Hayley’s travel disasters, Yemi’s saucy antics in Sefton Park, Emma’s dragon kids, Marlla’s odd relationship with her dentist and how Laura used to pick on her little brother and call him ‘Peter Poo Stain.’
Meanwhile, the main focus of my stories was my son’s fascination with “big hairy balls” and the fungal horrors of Garston baths.
Gradually, our comedy material started to take shape. Kate and Rachel gave us guidance on how to mold our ideas into five-minute comedy routines with a start, middle and end which we would perform live at The Laughterhouse comedy club on 6th December – eeek!
They coaxed us to move away from the bosom of the circle of trust, pick up a mic and perform our material in front of the group, giving us handy tips on mic technique and engaging with the audience.
It was interesting to see how different our routines were and how our unique personalities began to shine through.
Before long, it was time for the moment of truth when we would perform our stand-up routines in front of an audience of our family, friends and colleagues at the Hot Water Comedy Club on Hardman Street.
We were introduced by our comedy coach and compere for the night, Kate, and it was great to see her in action – she’s just naturally funny and disarmingly abrasive
Then it was time to witness my fellow mums pop their comedy cherries. AnneMarie opened the show with a hilarious comedy rap, while Liz waddled onto the stage with a cushion stuffed under her top ready to perform her Beyonce parody. “If you like it then you should have put a thing on it…”
I was on second to last and, as I watched, my nerves magnified from little butterflies to death’s-head hawk moths.
I was absolutely bricking it. At that moment, I would have rather have experienced a rusty forceps birth to the world’s fattest baby – without any Pethidine.
Then Katie called out my name… Taking a deep breath, I got up on stage – blinded by the spotlight – which was actually a Godsend as I couldn’t see the audience that well.
As if by magic my nerves just melted away. I still don’t understand where they went but I just imagined I was down the pub telling my mates a few yarns and it wasn’t that scary at all.
When the audience actually laughed it was a real buzz to get such a positive reaction to my motherly musings. And I remembered it all – which was a big fat Brucie bonus as my biggest fear was my mind going blank.
Afterwards, we were all on a big fat high as we downed Prosecco in the bar. I really felt like, if I could do stand-up comedy on stage in front of 100 people and not die on my arse, then I could anything.
Weeks later, I was asked to do a presentation in work which once would have struck the fear of God into me, but I just took it in my stride.
But as well as boosting my confidence and having a giggle, the best thing was that I met some really good friends on the course.
We have met up a few times since and keep in touch on Whatsapp, sharing our daily trials and tribulations, making each other laugh and dusting each other’s crowns – it’s like having a 24-hour support network on tap.
It was a truly life-changing experience and I thoroughly recommend it to any mums out there!
The next course starts on April 7. Sessions take place at the Quaker Meeting House in Liverpool from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. To find out more, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0151 702 5893, text 07593042930.
Go on, I dare you!