Ashley: I am so excited today. We have Lizzie Allen joining us. She has a BA in comedy writing and is a registered therapeutic counselor Lizzie, Elaine Chang, and her small team have created Hilarapy, which is this groundbreaking type of comedy therapy. I can’t wait to hear all about it. So thank you for joining us today.
Lizzie: Oh, well, thank you for having me, Ashley. I’m excited to be here on your podcast.
WHAT IS HILARAPY?
A: Thank you. Can you tell everybody what is Hilarapy?
L: So Hilarapy is the best way I can describe it is comedy and therapy combined, and lots of people use comedy as therapy, and that’s a really big kind of movement that’s emerging but I do it differently. I do real therapy where we get to cry and face the stuff that really keeps us stuck and use that as a springboard to find the funny. When we explore some of the deep stuff that happens through the therapeutic part, we actually open ourselves up to use comedy in a different way. So to find the absurdities, to find the moments of comedy or light within the challenging lived experience,
A: Such a unique way of thinking about it, a lot of the times we feel like our burdens, our struggles are just our own and that we internalize all of this shame and guilt. And not that our struggles aren’t a big thing, but I think when we internalize them like that, then it becomes this massive thing. Sometimes traditional therapy when you’re sitting there, talking to somebody, there can be a lot of pressure and so if you do bring comedy into it, it does feel like it would be easier.
L: Yeah, I believe so. I mean, there’s so many different aspects to the work that we do at Hilarapy so I use it for myself. So I’ve got lived experience of mental health stuff and addiction and trauma who doesn’t right?! Everybody’s kind of working on something. What I found was that if I was able to really face it in a serious way and allow myself to fully face my shame and to walk into it head first, because when I’m in avoidance of it, that’s when it’s really causing me the most problems. When I actually admit to myself, okay I’m really ashamed, right? This is something that’s caused me a lot of shame, a lot of pain. Now I have noticed that I’m going to deal with it and so the process that I go through is to really look at that through, my writing, through talking with other people like therapist or trusted spiritual friends, and then to really kind of explore it and allow it to be seen in the light and have my grieving process or have my sadness. Go through it like that. And then I am able to go, hang on a minute, there’s some really hilarious points to this. There’s some hugely funny human absurdities to this, and I’m going to kind of pull those out and explore them. And then I’m going to take that to the stage. So that’s kind of how I use it, but when I’m working with other people, I use the group. I think the group is so incredibly powerful when it comes to healing. When you were talking about going to see a therapist, this one-on-one talk therapy, that’s one type of therapy and it’s wonderful. It has its place, but it’s not everything. That’s where a community really helps. When your therapy session ends that one hour a week, that you can afford, if you are even capable of affording that, cause it can be quite costly, right? So when you have a community, you build relationships with people outside of that one-on-one therapist thing. I just think the power of the group is massive. So when I work with a group, we do what I call experiential therapy. So if somebody brings something forward into the session, they might be going through some sort of loss in their personal life, a divorce or they might bring up something that they’ve never even told anyone about, you know experience of self-harm or, abuse or something like that. And they bring it forward into the group and for the first time ever, we get to hold space, it might be the first time they’ve had connection in that space. And so we do experiential group processes, which are not intellectual. We can’t intellectualize them. We have to go through them and so I do different exercises and stuff that I learned how to do when I was training to become a therapist. That helped me massively with my personal life and my creative life. I was able to process stuff because at the point of trauma in our younger years, like nobody can go through life without experiencing some sort of trauma and loss. It’s the nature of being alive. We all know this, right. We all go through trauma and loss. It’s a part of life and we should embrace it as a part of life and not kind of try to think that we should just be totally happy but the point of trauma. When that happens in childhood, it’s not so much the thing that happens. It’s the cutoff that is created from our caregiver and that loss of connection in that moment. It can appear very benign to the outsider, but to the child, what happens is they get an experience of being totally alone and then they internalize it because children are egocentric by nature. They haven’t got the ability. So they internalize it and then make it mean something. Right? So we create a belief in that cutoff. Like I’m not good enough. I don’t matter. I’m unlovable. And then as adults, we’re still living. If we don’t explore that trauma, we’re still living. from those false beliefs. And of course that’s the thing that causes so much upset and rubbish in our lives. And when we do the work on that, which we do at Hilarapy you know, in the group process or any kind of therapy and group therapy or anything that you do to better yourself and develop, and, you know, you’re a prime example of this with your podcast and your exploration of all of these different ways when we do. When we do that, we change the way we relate to each other and we can reframe our inner beliefs to, Hey, I do matter. I am enough. I belong here.
A: I really do think that’s the piece that’s missing, I think for the longest time that it was this idea of like, you just put on a happy smiling face and everything’s fine. And any sort of trauma or upset always would happen behind closed doors. There was never this, you know, talk to people, let it out, explore it version of what I think there is now. There are so many fantastic versions of therapy out there that I think people just need to explore, which works best for them. I do really feel that once we start letting all of those things out and really exploring, like you said, it all goes back to childhood and these ideas that we’ve created for ourselves, once we explore that and heal that, having that community around. Does really make it so that it’s okay. It’s okay to have these traumas. It’s okay to not feel okay all the time. It’s okay if you are happy afterwards and you’ve recovered from it and all of these different things, it does give you that peace of mind, just to know that you’ve made it to the other side.
L: I agree. I absolutely agree.
MENTAL HEALTH STRUGGLES
A: Now, you had mentioned before that you had struggled with mental health things. I believe that was when you were living in the UK, is that correct?
L: Yeah. It was actually when I was young I grew up in a bit of a dysfunctional home. Who doesn’t?! I started smoking weed at 12 and drinking and then by the time we were 15, we were doing party drugs and stuff like that. I did not do well with those kinds of things. In my system. I have a really open, energetic field and it just blasts me into outer space. So, you know, by the time I was 19, I just didn’t know what to do with myself. So I went traveling in India then to Singapore, then Thailand. I thought I would know what I wanted to do with my life when I came back, because I felt so lost. I didn’t feel like I belonged. I was hiding my sexuality. I just felt all kinds of wrong because of my really strong beliefs about myself. Like we’d just spoken about there were created through trauma and cutoff in my family and so I went to Thailand and I had been sort of just going along with whatever was going on in India and Singapore and Thailand, and that was like, drugs and staying up all hours and just not really taking care of myself. I went to a Thai Full Moon party and we were taking like slimming pills from the chemist because it was speed. It’s basically buying speed across the counter. Speed is not something that does me any favors. It’s just, that’s just say that for free.
A: I don’t really think it does anybody any favor.
L: Some people can take like 10 times the amount I took. I barely took anything in the grand scheme of things, but Thai New Years on Ko Phangan, I just broke through into another dimension and like cracked open. I felt like I was crying with God and all the suffering people on the planet. I joke about it and call it psychic crying. That’s when you’ve painfully merged with all the suffering people on the planet and it escalated pretty quickly. I went pretty mad and my mum had to come out and rescue me from where I was being sedated in a hospital on the island or medical centers, very small. I went back to England and I wouldn’t calm down. I was like, insisting that we had to save the world right now cause there’s a lot to do. I was sectioned under the Mental Health Act when you get put into a psychiatric ward against your will, so that’s what happened when I was put on Olanzapine and Traamazpan and I didn’t want to be on drugs because my grandpa was a schizophrenia doctor and we just don’t trust doctors in our house. So in many ways that was a gift because I wasn’t just going to roll over and be medicated for the rest of my life. A lot of people are told very wrongly that they will need to, maintain their mental health like that. That happened and I was a very public crazy person. I thought it was going to be a famous rapper and save the world, which possibly I still might. Now that I’m sober and clean, I still might.
A: Well, I definitely think that your therapy program will help a lot of people. So maybe not necessarily the world, but on a much smaller field. I definitely believe that you are helping people.
L: No, I still want to save the world with my rap album, but I’ll tell you what it is. I’ll tell you what I’ve learned since being in a much more spiritually well-place, which I am I’m living a very blessed life today because I manage my mental health through proper sleep and good people and exercise. I’m not suffering anymore with my mental health, but don’t get me wrong I do have to have sofa days, but I tell you what I’ve come to know is that I don’t have to save the world outside of me. I just have to save the world inside of me and then outside will reflect back to me. So that’s the shift, right? I put that into my creativity now because I do my own shows. I’m writing a big show for September that I’m going to tour in North America, UK and Australia theater production about this story of going mad but it’s also about kind of making friends with that ego part of myself, the critical ego, like it’s okay. Like we’re going to change what your role is because the ego gets created to protect us. It’s our personality. When we have to protect ourselves because essentially underneath it, we got to stop people getting too close because they’ll find out that I’m unlovable and I’m too much in all of those things. So the ego strategizes for us and does its thing, and it can be very good at that. As children we may need it and we did need it, but as adults, we need to, stand down, okay. Now you’re just being abusive and like, yeah, it does get in the way. So that’s kind of what it’s about and it’s also about like this higher self, the part of me and the part of you that’s untouchable by anything that goes on on earth. It’s the eternal part of us that lives forever. Despite what all of this goes on down here, and I’m going to pre film these two parts of myself and then interact with them throughout the show.
STORYTELLING IS THE ROOT OF ALL COMEDY
A: Are you familiar with Tig Notaro? So like her comedy where she had just found out that her mom had died, she had this crazy infection, got breast cancer and then decided to do a comedy special where people were laughing and crying by the end of it. But even just going out there and saying her truth and saying these dramatic things and working through it even just mentally on stage. It catapulted her whole career. She basically took something that we perceive as being this horrible, awful thing and then in hindsight does become this beautiful blessing that if we hadn’t had to go through the troubles or the issues, that way we would have never found the other side of it.
L: And there’s Hannah Gatsby as well. If you come across her she’s brilliant because what she was doing, she did this big show for anyone who hasn’t seen it. It’s on Netflix. It’s called Nanette and she has another one out called Douglas. But Nanette, that was a real turning point because Hannah Gatsby had grown up in a very homophobic part of the world in Australia, in Tasmania where it was illegal until the age of she was 19 before it got legalized to be gay. She was severely abused because she’s quite a masculine woman. She spent years doing comedy about it, and then she made this show this is why I’m not going to do comedy anymore and at the end she got really angry and she just expressed how it really was for her and how she had been basically retraumatizing herself every time she got on stage and made jokes about herself being a gay woman. It blasted her into the stratosphere. She just became incredibly famous because that’s what people want. They want the truth. We all want the truth. That’s why Hilarapy has always been for me this kind of very obvious thing of like well why can’t we move from telling hilarious jokes about the most absurd situations that we go through as humans and then drop into the to the truth of it? Like, what was that really like for you? You know, say that to my students, don’t be afraid to drop into your heart and say, no that was really, really horrible. And that was really shameful. Then you can bring your audience right in because that’s connection. That’s the connecting piece. If I let you into my struggle, not from a place of needing you to have sympathy for me or approval, or I don’t need anything from you. I’m just letting you in. And you’re like, I’m like that okay. We don’t have the same story, but I feel shamed of myself. Some times I feel afraid. Sometimes I feel alone. I feel like I don’t know what’s going on in the world and that part that connection. Then being able to make people laugh on the other end of that as well and it doesn’t have to belittle the experience that you’re talking about. That’s why Hilarapy is kind of a genius move. It, not me cause genius moves through us. Right? We’re conduits for this beautiful expression of life. Each of us are so unique that we all have our own way of expressing this amazing, like light and Hilarapy is. It’s there for people to use in the way that serves them.
YOU CANNOT FIX PEOPLE
A: Which is great that it’s not a one mold fits all. Does Harapy treat certain conditions or basically anybody that seeking out therapy could participate?
L: I have found that it’s complimentary to something that you’re already working on. So, I mean, I’ve learned this the hard way by taking people that are a little bit too early on in their therapeutic journeys, whatever that might be. So I recommend it for people who have some stability and ownership over their own healing journey. It’s not going to be the thing that saves you, it is going to compliment your journey. It’s going to give you wings. Right? So we attract different people into our program. Some of them are people who are working already in therapeutic roles or teaching roles or creative roles and they just want to bring more humor and light because they are maybe feeling like they carry too much on their own. That’s a very normal thing for healers and people who work in the industries of working with other people. They very much carry too much because it can come from the universal need to fix something outside of ourselves so that we can feel better. That’s what we do in life in general is we think we have to go and save the world that we can feel all right. That’s not the way it works. Is it like we learn this the hard way we learn it, the slow way we learn it the way. Right. But ultimately we’ve got to come back to a place where we are what I can only really control this little circle around me. It what’s inside is my domain. So I have a choice then I have a responsibility to align my thoughts with the highest truth I can possibly do. And then let that be my world. That’s the law of attraction. I mean pure and simple.
A: If we focus too much on external, like if I was trying to fix you while ignoring me, then it’s like, if I didn’t feel like I got the outcome that I wanted, then I’m just going to feel worse about myself. So it really is one of those things that you can only fix yourself, people aren’t projects, and they can only meet you where they are and be as ready as they are in that moment to want to do things differently.
L: And that’s that, I love what you just said. It reminds me of you can’t do more for someone else than they’re willing to do for themselves.
A: It’s really heartbreaking sometimes like when you do see people struggling and, like you said, it’s human nature to be like I just want to take you in and do all of the things. So we definitely do understand how hard it can be to watch people struggle. I think it’s one of those things that we tend to repeat behaviors over and over again thinking that the situation or the outcome is going to change, it’s like you can’t just keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting it to be different. What was the most surprising thing after creating hilarapy that you’ve noticed?
MOST PEOPLE RESPECT THE BOUNDARIES WE SET
L: I’ve noticed that it starts conversations. I don’t know if this is surprising for me, but the openness on stage and the fact that I create a healthy environment. I, guard that showroom, like the show night, I got it. Like it’s like a house party for very, very special guests. And if you come into this house party, these are the rules and what surprises me really, is that people rise up to the level that you create for them. If you say to people, these are the rules , of Hilarapy, as in you are at a therapy session, thank you so much for paying for our therapy, but you are part of this session. This is for you as well as it’s for us, right on stage. People just need to know what the boundaries are and they are up for it. What’s surprising me is I’m actually seeing this opportunity to create a whole brand new brand of comedy and a space for people to do it. So I would like Hilarapy to pop up all over the world and I have kind of plans for that to help people facilitate their own groups, not even franchise it, but just have people like going, I’m going to do a Hilarapy show, right. A Hilarapy star show it’s called blah, blah, blah and then people go, oh, I know what that is. I know what to expect. I know I’m going to be respected as an audience member. I’m not going to be shamed and belittled. I’m not going to have to listen to somebody really like horrible. Like, you know, somebody’s doing something nasty on stage because there’s lot of toxicity in, in comedy clubs and in that world. That’s great if that’s what you’re going for and that’s what you expect but if you’ve got a tender heart and you’ve lived through some, you know, amazing and heartbreaking things in your life as so many of us do, and you want to share yourself from the stage, then that is an honor to witness and creating that space is what’s like it’s what’s showing itself to me as work that can be done.
A: It’s so beautiful. People being vulnerable with each other and being brave enough to say, this is me, this is what I’m struggling with. I do know what you’re talking about with comedy. It gets to the point where if you’re belittling, people say medical diagnosis, whether it’s what happened at the Oscars or just people being mean and us having to be like, well comedy gets a pass, because it doesn’t always feel funny.
L: And it can just be so toxic, right? It can just be so like, okay you’ve got a microphone in your hand and you get a right to just abuse people and abuse yourself. Like, do I really want to witness somebody who’s really unwell on stage? Just talking about their own crippled life from inside it while they still haven’t sorted out. So that’s the kind of energetic field that I project for Hilarapy is that it’s comedy from a place of wellness. That’s why I say going circling back to like who can do Hilarapy and who’s it for, I mean, anyone can do it, but I know that it works when people have some solidarity, a bit more of their solid self, or at least that they have a lot of support outside as well to make it part of their journey.
A: ’cause you definitely want to be laughing with them, not at them.
L: Yes. Yes. You don’t want to be laughing because you feel so. What’s the word I’m looking for uncomfortable. You know, when people are just saying stuff that’s so shocking that the only thing the audience can do is laugh and then it just gives the person on stage more like, oh yeah, it works. I’m going to say more, really shocking and unbelievable things and see what happens. I avoid comedy clubs like the plague, I only go if I’m invited to go and do like like a show for an, NA gig or something like that and I know the audience is going to be people in recovery and the majority of the audience anyway, cause I feel really at home. Don’t get me wrong like I appreciate stand-up comedy, big time, especially the break through artists. They get through because you know, if they do break through it because they’re coming from a place of originality and authenticity, but some of them I’m just not interested because it is very negative and it’s playing on that reactive part of us that kind of can’t cope with it, you know?
A: Well, cattiness it’s like kind of gets down to the ego where we all kind of turn into high school mean girls and we’re like are we laughing because it’s funny or we’re laughing because we want to feel included of making fun of whoever and don’t get me wrong I love comedy and I love comedians, but I do know some of them, it’s just like, if you weren’t a old, rich white man, would you be being paid millions of dollars making fun of other people. So it kind of draws the line of, are you successful because you’re funny or are you successful because you have real talent.
L: Yeah. And are you just a massive bully? So it’s an interesting journey that I’m on at the moment for sure. I’ve just kind of got my head around the fact that if Hilarapy is going to get anywhere then I have to take myself somewhere with it and keep saying I’m doing Hilarapy right so that’s where I’m at at the moment.
WHERE CAN YOU PARTICIPATE IN HILARAPY
A: Is Hilarapy in-person or is it online or is it both?
L: It started in person and then when COVID hit, we created a online membership program and we had people from all over the world join us, which was wonderful. I was teaching online for a whole year, every week, about four times a week. But we didn’t have enough flow and it was too much output for me with too little input and because we don’t have a big brand awareness yet, so we’ve paused the online stuff and I’m working on many projects in the moment. So I have one show that I’m doing at the moment called Connection Please. So if you interested in seeing that in the next five months, we’ll be at different locations being revealed around the Lower Mainland/Vancouver area on Hilarapy.com. I’m writing this big show, as I told you, which is a theater production, which is happening in September. That’s a huge project for me. I’m taking that on as a kind of like spiritual leaning into it. I’ve booked 4 dates. That’s 4,000 seats. I’ve got to sell maybe nobody will come, but I’ll be there and I’ll be doing it. And if nobody comes, I just figure, well, you know, then there’s nobody to be worried about seeing me fail. I’m not concerned about that cause we have a big team working on it and I do believe it will be a wonderful success and a spiritual experience, but I’m also working on a docu-series, which will be filmed maybe later this year, and it’s very exciting and that will televise what it is that Hilarapy does behind the scenes. So that means that I can’t really focus on doing any courses or workshops at the moment. I’ve also got two books under construction. One is a How-to-Hilarapy guide which has just been finished and the other one is a memoir about my life. I always feel a bit wonky saying memoir memoir, a memoir. I spent like a bit of an idiot saying that but that was in its first draft at the moment. I’m working pretty closely with an editor on that.
I was really hoping to get like all these things kind of arrive at the same time, because I’ve started using, this metaphor that I’m like a bamboo and like a Chinese bamboo plant or the tree. And do you know about it? Like once you plant the seed of a Chinese bamboo tree, it grows for five years underground, so you won’t get harvest for five years, but when it finally bursts through the ground, it grows 90 feet in five weeks, and then it becomes a very aggressive plant. So once you cut it down, it just shoots back up again. It’s just everywhere. People think of it as this, like oh, it’s a really easy growing thing. Like, you know, that’s what overnight success is, isn’t it? People think, oh, look at them. They just came from nowhere, but it’s not like that. Like we all know there’s years and years and years behind it. That’s kind of what I feel like it’s happening with me and my career and Hilarapy. It’s going to be everywhere all at once. You know with the books and the TV show and the TV show is hopefully going to be, and we’re selling it as well. Like I say we I’ve sold the literary option to make Hilarapy a traumedy series because it was my idea. I hate to say that if my producers listening, but it was, and you got to take a bit of ownership. Right? We’re hoping to do Hilarapy New York, Hilarapy Vancouver, Hilarapy London, Hilarapy Sydney so that we can repeat this kind of beautiful process all over the world and see these beautiful people face their staff within the group setting with all real vulnerable, beautiful moments that we’re going to capture and then we’ll see them on stage doing comedy. We’re going to fall in love with them before they’ve even got to the stage. We’re going to be like, I love you so much like I’ve seen you you’re just like me and then once this is all up and running, we’re going to open up our online membership program. Then the book that’s the how-to guide book and people can get hold of that and they can join us from anywhere in the world.
They can connect with the people that they, really related to on the TV and work with them personally and things like that. That’s my kind of idea for it to make everything and everyone kind of accessible as much as they’re willing and want to be, of course, but there’s so much room for community. I liked the idea of somebody who’s a recovering addict who’s been in prison and wants to give back and wants to share a bit about their experience. So they’re going to go and take, Hilarapy into a prison or something and do a show for prisoners or hold little groups where people can write but also hold space for each other, things like that. And then they come and they get all the resources they need and the support they need, they can even get trained. Like you can train the trainer and things like that. So this whole idea could be available to so many people and it’s just, it’s something that I just want to give away. I want it to just grow and grow and grow, like, regardless of like, whether I’m there or not, you know? So, yeah, that’s my big, dream.
So it will be available everything like by next year, I, perceive that there will be lots available for people to come get involved with as little or as much as they like, whether they just want to view it or whether they just want to be involved in the actually put some work in and get some of their story out there because I think our stories are everything. When we can own them and share them we literally change the world. We light the way for other people. We all need to be brighter and stronger. I don’t mean like that in a sort of bossy way. I just mean like, we have a duty to shine our light and we’re so afraid aren’t we? Especially as like women or certain people, like we have to always think about, oh am I going to offend anyone with my light? Are they going to be all right with it? I was saw on social media and it was really important. I think it’s like not everyone is going to like you and you don’t like everyone else. So that’s cool. Right. I think that’s a real freedom for me. I had to get over that. I had to get over the fact that I don’t need everybody to approve of me because at the end of the day, I don’t have time to please everyone. I just don’t like anyone not interested in what I’m doing or saying they can just move out of my space. I don’t care. It doesn’t even touch me anymore. I’m sure I’m going to be as bright as I want to be. And as bright as I can be. And if you don’t like it, put some sunglasses on or go away.
YOU ARE NOT FOR EVERYONE
A: That’s just the thing. I think that so many of us are told, you know, be nice and whatever, and not that shining our light isn’t nice. It is one of those things, not everybody has to get us and not everybody has to like us and we don’t need that validation or it doesn’t necessarily benefit us as long as we feel a certain way about ourselves. And could you imagine trying to be friends with 7 billion people on the planet? Like I can barely return a text message let alone 7 billion of them. We’re not meant to be for everybody but I do think your grand scheme plan really goes back to what you were saying when you had what you perceived as a mental breakdown. You’re really trying to heal the world. And this potentially is your way of doing that. Like Hilarapy is such a unique idea that I’m surprised already that it’s not something that people trying to make a light of their struggles and bond with other people. I could really see this being something that takes off. As soon as you had told me about it, when we had ran into each other at the Wellness Show in Vancouver, I was like this is genius. It’s such a fantastic idea.
L: It was something I stumbled upon. I didn’t even really kind of have to try. And that’s what is beautiful about when we get into our own flow. When we start to listen to our own inner guidance, and that a lot of that came from me actually using my own story and already having a community within my recovery community, which I could really lean into. I discovered so much about myself just by being in a community which was able to hold space for me. We were hold space for each other, that we would be able to just hear ourselves because you know what we don’t need to be told what to do. We just need to be able to trust that we already have that capacity to find those answers from within that quiet guiding voice from within. So, yeah. No but thank you though. It is a genius idea, but it’s not my idea. I mean, genius is, is a spirit of, of like creativity that just comes through us, but it’s constantly being more, will be revealed. It’s a wonderful experience for me to be part of it.
A: It’s always fun to know that it can be so many other things and that when you find something that I feel like if you’re meant to do it, it doesn’t feel like hard work. Like obviously there’s hard work involved, but it does feel like, of course this is what I’m doing. It’s like, you almost find peace in finding what you were meant to do.
L: Mm Hmm. I think that’s for all of us as well. I feel like Hilarapy helps different people in different ways. You know, some people are like, I just want to do something that scares me once. That’s how I’ve had people come and do the course. I’m not going to be a comedian, but I just want to do it once. I just want to do it on a stand up there. I want to be courageous. I want to be fearless. I’m going to do it. I’m going to embrace it. I’m gonna invite all my friends and they’re all going to love me and life’s great and then I want to walk away. The feedback I get from the people who are kind of doing it for that reason is that they just stand up a bit taller. With anything that we do that makes us step outside of our comfort zone. When we do that we actually create a much bigger place to live. People always say like comedy is one of the hardest things you can do and I don’t believe that that’s true. I think it’s a myth. If you’re trying to do comedy, like other people do it, then you’re going to run into problems but when I’m with my people and we get to a level where we are talking from our hearts to each other. Oh my goodness. If you lean into your own experience of life, no one can do life like you, no one has done life like. No one experiences reality like you and the beauty of comedy, or at least Hilarapy comedy is I get to invite you into my world for five minutes or more. I get to show you the audience, what it’s like to be me in the world, from my perspective. The more I am inside my own experience, the world and I communicate from there that’s everything. It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter what style you bring to your performance. Whether you stand very, very still, and you speak very, very quietly. If you’re coming from your own authentic original experience you can make it funny because there’s joke formulas that are just easy, easy, easy. Everyone can find the same joke about Donald Trump or Will Smith. Right? People will find the very same joke because it’s outside of us. No one can tell a joke about my experience of going mad like I can. Nobody can tell you that you might have a similar experience but it’s your way of experiencing it. People love it. They love it. It doesn’t matter if you just have to put a couple of jokes in and then tell us all about yourself. It’s everything like it’s beyond your average comedy club is it’s not, not a beat on it.
A: I think people forget that the root of comedy really is storytelling. It really isn’t necessarily coming up with like a punchline. A duh da duh da about it. It really is sharing your authentic self and sharing a story. While I don’t necessarily always agree with his punchline. I think (Dave) Chappelle is good at getting up there and telling a story and you don’t even necessarily see where the ending is coming. I think when thinking about trauma or lived experience, you may think it’s going a certain way and then the story kind of takes a left field. That’s when it’s like hilarious because it’s like of course that’s what happened.
L: It’s the unexpected. We have so many preconceived ideas about each other, but we can’t not right. We look at somebody on the street and we think, oh yeah, their boring. Well, you know, because you knew a librarian when you were six, it was really boring or something. Now everyone who looks even slightly like that librarian is really boring then you speak to them and then you realized they were a festival roadie for four years and they had this crazy boyfriend and they did all this stuff and you’re like, oh and then the juxtaposition of somebody telling that story or we’re taught to think older people are so respectful and everything like that but then when they make it up and they tell you what that they’ve actually done with that time or that you’re like, oh funny, and that’s why authenticity and originality is so important in comedy. It’s so important for comedy that will make a difference to your life. It’s great to have a laugh. There’s nothing wrong with having an entertaining, laugh at a comedy club, but when you come away going. I already related to that, they told a bit of my story and I actually feel a bit more like it’s okay to be me.
FINDING THE CONNECTION TO PEOPLE
A: It’s just the beauty and the connection. Whether it’s the last two years, whether it’s because even prior to that, I think we don’t necessarily pick up a phone anymore. It’s almost offensive to phone somebody that I feel like a lot of our stuff is done via text message or like social media. I feel like that human connection piece is missing a little bit. So I think when we can hear people going through the same struggles or be able to sort of relate to anybody on a more authentic level, I just think it’s so important now. I think we as a society, crave that and need that so much, especially too it’s like if we think about even just the social media aspect of it, we only see a snippet of somebody’s highlight reel. You don’t see when somebody is at their wit’s end crying in their pantry, or haven’t got out of bed in four days on all of the different struggles individually that we go through. We just don’t share that piece of ourselves as commonly
L: Yeah, absolutely. I agree. I never heard anyone say there’s almost offensive to phone somebody now. It’s hilarious, but it’s true. Isn’t it? It’s like you have to really double check. Am I going to actually ring them or no? A better not, I better preamble this phone call with a text message and then it’s almost like, how do we fit people in, right. Yeah. So interesting. Cause we, I mean, I don’t know how old you are. How old are you?
A: I’m 37. I am almost 40.
L: Right. I’m 37, almost 40. I love that. I’m 41. Right. So I grew up in the eighties and nineties it was very much like if you were away from the phone, you were away from the phone and that’s it. But we did manage to find each other didn’t we, like I was always like orienting towards the people that I needed to be around. Which goes to, I mean, I’m going a bit kind of, I think off piece tear a little bit, but this interconnectedness that we all have transcends the actual connection that we have, that we are so connected. I found through my own healing journey that I can feel connected, even when I’m not technically, you know like physically connected with other people or even by the internet or the phone, I feel like I could walk around and just kind of start conversations with people and feel that part of, our sameness and our connectivity. I feel that’s something that this journey that I’m on is giving me it’s this, like the more I tell you about my life on the stage, the more I’m doing it in my personal life as well. I’ve opened up so many conversations in my own personal life that has caused me to become so much closer to whoever it is I’m talking to. I’ve always been a bit like this anyway. My family are Chatty Cathy’s. We’ve never been too ashamed of the shit that’s gone down in our family which has given me a lot of strength to just really own my story. Cause I don’t have any family rules that say you can’t and lots of people do. Like, it’s not okay to mention that our Auntie Pat went away to a funny farm. Nobody mentions Auntie Pat. But we’re all about in our family, but I can have conversations with people at the bus stop , and I get deep really, really quick, but I think that that’s a huge gift, a huge gift to my life.
OUR YOUTH ARE NOT EMBARRISED
A: Once you feel more healed and more calm, just in general, I feel like then sharing the rough bits don’t seem as shameful or is as hard to share because it’s like, you’ve kind of removed that energy of, oh, I shouldn’t or what if they think this about me because it’s like, I already think this about me and I’m okay with that. So it really doesn’t matter what the other person thinks. And I think, again, growing up in the eighties and nineties, we didn’t talk about anything. Everything was sort of shoved under the rug. Whereas jump to now, I have an almost 15 year old daughter. It is night and day. The things that they think aren’t embarrassing or aren’t shameful, whether it’s, you know, grabbing their tampon out of their backpack and walking to the bathroom without hiding it or saying, I need a mental health day, I can’t go to school today. Or whether it’s talking about gender and sexuality and all of that kind of stuff. I really love that it’s less embarrassing or seen as, you know, not appropriate to talk about.
L: I have the same. We have an 11 year old and and it is night and day. It’s like my child has decided that she’s bisexual and you know, part of me wants to go, but don’t tell everyone, you know what I mean? Like don’t tell everyone because you might change your mind. I have to stop myself because I know that’s not my truth. Cause I had to hide until I was 22. I mean, nobody told me I had to, just what I thought I had to do. Like I couldn’t even open up to myself for so long. I just kind of didn’t really want to own my own experience of reality because I was so afraid that I would be in that category of freak because of the way, you know, cause everything’s story. We have a very strong collective story that’s very based in fear so in this healing evolution that we’re all on. The fact that we can connect with anyone all over the world, like within reason cause I know actually there are up to 4 billion people that are unbanked and not even on the internet. So I just want to put that out there, but this phone’s going out and there’s cryptocurrency coming up but this evolution that we’re having collectively, we’re very much kind of coming to an idea and I am as well. I envisioned and what I’m putting into my work and the bigger picture for where I’m going with with my journey is this idea that we can hold this reality of love and peace inside us. So single-mindedly that if enough of us did it, we would literally change the world from the inside out. There’s no doubt in my mind, we’ve all read the secret and we do it with like I’m going to attract the perfect partner and a million dollars. All those things. And that’s great cause it works, but why don’t we just do it for world peace? Like, Hey, I can just walk around just imagining that the world is absolutely loving and peaceful and it’s not a case of putting your head in the sand and ignoring the fact that there’s a war on. There’s always been a war on right. Evolution of humanity. We’ve been warring, right? So this is not news or new information. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not belittling what’s going on. What I’m saying is as far as the law of attraction goes, and we want to attract a reality that isn’t here yet we have to hold it and feel it and believe it and see it as if it already is despite what outward evidence would tell us
A: For sure. Anytime that we lead with love and kindness, and I think as a society, we definitely need to lean into that side a lot more versus the fear and the shame side of it, or the egocentric or the just focusing on. Money or physical things that can come to us that way and really lean into the being kinder and being softer and being gentle, or either with ourselves or just everybody in general. That’s where the true beauty is.
THE SYSTEM IS A SHAM
L: Yeah and the truth of it is as well it’s like we have to embrace the night as well as well as the day. We have to embrace going down to go up. We have to have that kind of acceptance of what is, is the place where we can start. And also, you know, if everything’s not all right it’s not the end. There is really no end and we are eternal in our, in our spiritual natures. There’s a part of us that will live on whatever happens in this lifetime, you know, 200 years from now. We just won’t be thinking about this will be because we’d all be dead.
A: Exactly. I was just going to say at the at the rate we’re going I feel like in 20 years versus 200.
L: Unless we do something quickly with our internal worlds because we do have so much power. Like I’m massive on this. Like I know it, you and I, and every single person on this planet has access to unlimited power. Anything that we think are these control systems. It’s a house of cards only stands up because we put our belief in it but if I remove my belief from it and so do 3 billion other people. Well, it really doesn’t have that much sway anymore. It’s just a lot of people shouting and nobody listening. I’m an eternal optimist, and it’s funny because my sister is in England at the moment and she is an activist and they’re doing a just stop oil. The government wants to now tap oil again. It’s like well, we can’t keep going down that road. I think we need to look at sustainable sources of energy. And instead of just ignoring this crisis that we’re in and then my sister is doing this amazing work down there. And then I’m doing my work, which looks so different. It looks so different to the work she’s doing. Everybody has their part to play. I can do what I can do. You can do what you can do and we can get stronger in our personal power. Find your way.
A: If somebody else is doing something else and it doesn’t hurt you or doesn’t directly impact you, then don’t make it your business when it’s like a positive thing. Do you know what I mean? And I think like let’s not set us backwards, you know, whether it’s Florida and their don’t say gay or their war on trans people, let’s focus on our environment. Let’s focus on bringing people together. Let’s focus on things that aren’t going to take us back to the forties and are really going to plunge us forward.
L: I really agree with that because this is the thing we do by accident, we complain about the things we don’t want and we get upset about things we don’t want. Instead of focusing all our beautiful heart energy on what we do want, I always quote Mother Teresa, and it isn’t a direct quote. I have butchered the quote because I can never remember what she actually said, but she said, do not invite me to an anti-war rally. I will not come invite me to a pro peace one and you immediately feel the difference. They’re both designed to bring peace to the world, but which one will bring peace? The one that’s going, ah, no more war. And they’re basically warring, warring the war, which is just putting so much energy into the thing you don’t want or create this beautiful experience of light and love where you can see children on adult shoulders. You can see color, you can see celebration, you can see love, acceptance connection. You can see expansion, you can feel the energy lift right? And we need to take our focus up and away from the very things that we don’t want, because what, who needs another complainer?
A: It can get so easy to want to rant, but it really doesn’t do anything. It really is a shift in society’s collective perception, that’s really needed to amplify love and kindness and moving us forward. Bring that connection to us as a society or bring us together.
L: Yeah I’m so motivated. Just bring it back to Hilarapy that’s why I feel like we can change and save the world, our inside world, of course, by having a really good time. That’s what I think is really exciting about Hilarapy. We could save the world by having a really joyful, hilarious, fun time together.
A: It’s like when we do have this great energetic experience, we are more likely to share that vibe and to really put it out there in the world. So I think it’s so fantastic what Hilarapy is going to do for so many people. Where do people find more information if they’re looking for you online?
L: Go to hilarapy.com so it’s H I L A R A P Y. So it’s like basically hilarious therapy, sign up to our newsletter and you will never miss another thing that we are doing. And I get to talk to you a little bit now and again, you know, write a blog and share my heart and share the journey with you because it’s so important. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate you. And the work you’re doing with, with your podcast.
A: Thank you.
For anyone wanting tickets to the show in September, click here.