White Rock-based comedy-as-therapy group Hilarapy has a new showcase for course members this December.
Some 15 performers will be performing their authentic Hilarapy-style comedy sets over two different shows (7 p.m. and 9 p.m.) on Saturday, Dec. 10 at the White Rock Elks Hall, 1469 George St.
And there’s a special for audiences: ticket price is $20 for one show, and just $30 for both.
But audiences should note that since Hilarapy involves various forms of recovery, the hall will be an alcohol-free venue for the event.
“It’s the first time back in person for the comedy-therapy course since COVID-19,” enthused Hilarapy founder and director Lizzie Allan, noting that while the program can include people recovering from alcohol and substance abuse, it is also geared to survivors of all kinds of trauma.
“For 12 of the people performing in these shows, it’s the first time ever in front of an audience, and a continuation of the therapy process.”
Allan describes the participants as “fabulous brave souls” – the youngest of whom is 20 and the eldest, 60. All will share their individual journeys in a comedic light, she said.
“It’s a vulnerable space to be in – but very authentic. And that creates a huge energy-shift. I’ll be hosting both shows – and I really have no idea what is going to happen on the night.
“But whatever happens, it’ll be an uplifting, inspiring experience of resilience and the human spirit.”
She said she developed the program after her own process of recovery, in which she found stand-up comedy to be a way out – and a way to aquire perspective on – her own experiences with trauma and substance abuse.
Hilarapy is not about belittling anyone’s experience, or going the lazy route of shock humour – in which audiences often laugh only out of embarrassment, she said.
Instead, it results in a relatable experience in which audiences can often identify with the issues discussed.
But reaching that point involves guiding a hard process of self-discovery in which participants realize they are not alone in their trauma, and can ultimately see what they thought was their own secret as part of a broader “absurdity of human experience,” Allan said.
The realization that they are in a safe space – a community in which others not only understand, but share their problems, is a key to the process, she added.
“Communication is the main point of Hilarapy,” she said.
Not only has she seen the process work for other people, but, through years of offering the program, she is also seeing it develop into a unique form of ‘confessional’ humour.
“I feel like it’s becoming a whole new genre for the art form of comedy,” she said.
“Hilarapy-style comedy is coming from a place of wellness, unlike some of the comedy you see in the stand-up clubs, which can be so toxic,” she added.
“I’d love it if ‘hilarapy” actually got into the dictionary as a word.”
Tickets are available through eventbrite.ca, or by visiting hilarapy.com/events