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Hilarapy featured in Third Age learning AGM at Kwantlen University

Founder Lizzie Allan about to take her recovery project on the road, starting with a U.S. tour
Comedian Lizzie Allan will bring her Hilarapy Recovery Project to the AGM of Third Age Learning at Kwantlen (TALK) on Oct. 30. (Contributed photo)

A dose of Hilarapy will be just what the doctor ordered to enliven the upcoming AGM for Third Age Learning at Kwantlen (TALK).

Lizzie Allan, and her crew of comedians, will give a unique demonstration of their joy in lifelong learning at TALK’s Annual General Meeting Oct. 30 at the Surrey campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

The Hilarapy Recovery Project will perform from 10 a.m. to noon at the Surrey campus of KPU (Cedar Building, Room 1205A).

Allan, a comedienne and certified therapist, is the creator of Hilarapy and the TALK appearance will be one of her local farewell performances before taking the show on the road – starting with a U.S. tour.

She has honed the Hilarapy project over the last eight years in White Rock, mentoring people in recovery to deal with their feelings, write their story and perform it as a stand-up comedy routine.

“It’s a family, a community of courageous seekers who support one another so we can use our experiences to uplift humanity and spread joy and hope to others,” she said.

“My mission with Hilarapy and the work I do is to shine a light and de-stigmatize recovery in general.”

Growing up in Britain, Allan decided at the age of eight she wanted to do stand-up comedy.

“In my family when everyone was laughing, everything was alright. It’s safety, it’s lifting everyone above the noise.

“It felt like a joyful, wonderful thing.”

But, she recalled, when she originally started to do stand-up, she felt anything but safe.

She was new, she was nervous and she realized that you just can’t make everyone laugh.

At 31 years of age, well on the road to recovery from addiction, Allan started university in Manchester, earning a degree in comedy writing and performance.

As a research project, she started looking at using humour as a source of therapy, eventually telling her own story on stage and “smashing the shame and stigma” of addiction recovery.

Telling her story to a loving, supportive community made stand-up an entirely different experience for her, Allan said.

“The recovery community is unbelievably integral – it’s such a gift,” she noted.

“The shame lifted that night. I felt light and something really magical happened and at the end of that was freedom.”

Canada beckoned. In order stay in the country, Allan trained as a therapist and developed a healing modality that is much more than funny business.

“It’s not a stand-up comedy show,” she noted, in describing the Hilarapy project.

“It’s a coming together, expressing ourselves in a safe environment and bringing light into the parts of ourselves that we have shame. It’s a unique form of therapy.”

Hilarapy has made its mark in the Lower Mainland.

Not only has Allan become “White Rock famous” – as she puts it – Hilarapy was awarded this year’s ‘Business of the Year – Supporter of the Arts’ award by the South Surrey and White Rock Chamber of Commerce.

Allan said her goal now is nothing less than “world domination” – starting with the U.S. tour, in which she plans on performing for free to people in recovery in venues such as rehab centres, treatment centres and prisons.

Comedy clubs and casinos will not part of the equation, she said.

“Hilarapy is about feelings – it needs its own space to breathe, to live outside of that environment,” she said.

Instead, she intends to do an ongoing video blog that will become a web series. And working with a documentary team, she eventually hopes to turn footage into a film about the project.

“My dream is to make a feature-length film and then win an Oscar for it,” Allan said.

“Hilarapy will become known all over the world. I know it will happen.”

The performance is free to TALK members (membership is $10 per year).

Registration for the event is required, at; or 604-599-3077.