LAUGHTER is the best medicine, according to Barry Heap who is a therapist by day and a comedian by night.

The former Padgate High School pupil, who works in mental health, has launched Cheshire Cat Comedy in Warrington saying stand-up is good for people’s wellbeing and confidence.

Barry has previously hosted things like cabaret and burlesque nights over the past three years. But he turned his hand to comedy for the first time this year after forming a partnership with Anima Jazz bar in St Austins Lane.

The 37-year-old said: “I’ve done a lot of am dram and theatre, I’ve presented on Radio Warrington and I’ve been working in the cabaret scene for the past two years. But by trade I’m a therapist so I’m on that ‘laughter is the best medicine’ policy really.”

Barry was confident hosting comedy nights and introducing comics due to his stage background.

He has also previously been in a theatre group at the Pyramid called Acting Up and has produced is own shows as part of the Coming Out Monologues, an annual celebration for the LGBT community.

But doing his own stand-up routine was a different matter altogether.

Barry, of Greenings Court, added: “It was so nerve wracking. I’m used to being able to get up on stage, host a full show and do everything.

“But the process of doing my own material literally left me shaking. The first time I was still wanting to bail out up to five minutes before getting on stage. I still get nervous about it as my anxiety levels are quite high but I rehearse so much that I’m ready by the time I get to go on.

“A lot of people have great jokes that they could tell you and they like the idea of doing stand-up but it’s just the anxiety of getting on stage that stops them. But if they were to do it I think it’s brilliant for people’s self confidence.

“I was at the Frog and Bucket and at that time that was probably the biggest audience I’d done with about 150 people.

“There was a point where I was just in the middle of my set and you could hear a pin drop in the building. At that point I knew I’d got that crowd and the buzz you get from that is incredible.”

Barry is now in the process of organising different kinds of stand-up such as ‘dry comedy’ to support people in recovery from addiction.

He said: “I’ve worked around recovery and addiction for quite a while so that is one of my passions in life.

“I’ve been to dry bars and different events like that so that’s one that’s in development and one I’ve wanted to do for quite some time.

“It’s also the real test of whether or not you’re funny because people aren’t laughing because they’re drunk!”

Also in the diary is an improv workshop on October 14 and a comedy marathon of 14 comedians on October 21. And over at Hop Co in Bold Street there will be an intimate night where comics can try out new material and the audience is charged just £1.

Barry added: “What’s lovely about that is that it’s a small intimate room so even if you get a crowd of about 20 in it’s still going to feel quite full.

“You’re going to get a great response and know what material works.

“Even your bigger names in comedy need to do try out nights to know what new material works. I started looking around town at what spaces could be used for one-off pop up nights.

“I’ve basically been experimenting with different aspects of comedy.

“We’ve got the most on at Anima Jazz but we’re starting to do shows at Hop Co and potentially another two venues.”

Barry also reckons Warrington has seen a boom in home grown comedy over the past year.

He said: “As I’ve started doing it there’s been other emerging comedians like Mike Keenan and Rob Mitchell.

“They’re now gigging around the country so it’s been quite nice that within a small area there are a few of us doing similar gigs. Warrington is quite well known for its music scene now so I think the comedy scene is just following on behind that. We’re in that prime position in between Liverpool and Manchester which both have well established comedy scenes.”

  • The next Cheshire Cat Comedy night is at Anima Jazz on Saturday, September 30, with Liverpool headliner Eddie Fortune. Tickets are bought on the door