Hilarapy, founded by stand-up comedian and professional counsellor Lizzie Allan (left) has adapted to the challenges of 2020, and the ongoing pandemic, by moving all of its comedy-as-therapy sessions and events – and creating new ones – online. (Contributed photo)

Hilarapy, founded by stand-up comedian and professional counsellor Lizzie Allan (left) has adapted to the challenges of 2020, and the ongoing pandemic, by moving all of its comedy-as-therapy sessions and events – and creating new ones – online. (Contributed photo)

White Rock-based Hilarapy continues comedy-therapy online

Seasonal events highlight graduates, ‘laughing yoga’ parties

COVID-19 was never part of the plan for anyone – and certainly not for Hilarapy.

When professional stand-up comedian and registered counsellor Lizzie Allan first founded her White Rock-based comedy-as-therapy company (formerly Addictive Comedy), it was focused on helping those with a history of alcohol and substance abuse – or sundry other trauma and loss issues – recover through the process of creating stand-up comedy.

But since the current pandemic shut down its live performance platforms, Hilarapy (recipient of the 2020 South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for supporter of the arts) has also taken on a role as a provider of online therapy – not to mention entertainment – that can help many who are simply feeling isolated by the requirements of distance, or staying within household bubbles.

READ MORE: White Rock-based Addictive Comedy rebrands as ‘Hilarapy’

Not that any of the other issues have gone away – in many cases, the pandemic has only exacerbated them – which makes maintaining connection, even virtually, even more important.

“When lockdown hit in mid-March, we instantly recognized that we could no longer do group therapy, public comedy shows, workshops with different recovery organizations, and all of the other engagements we’ve been involved in,” Allan said.

“Over time, I’ve come to recognize that when a door closes, it’s just best to let go of that and look for the new opportunities. Look where the other doors are opening.”

The current online program aims to provide options for anyone who can benefit from Hilarapy’s ‘healing with humour’ approach, Allan’s business and life partner Elaine Cheung said.

This includes live therapeutic sessions and live comedy workshopping sessions available on alternating Thursdays, while Allan also conducts weekly Q&A and information sessions for the comedy-therapy curious.

In addition, Allan offers private one-on-one consultation sessions in which she provides guidance for goal- and vision-setting for personal projects or aspirational objectives.

“Traumatic events have been the way most people used to enter therapy,” Cheung said. “For many years, support was somewhat limited. What we’re doing is continuing to build a community of support.

“When you come into Hilarapy, everyone around you is supportive and understanding. It’s perfectly okay to come in with a traumatic experience, but you don’t have to if you don’t have one. Both are welcome and supported.”

The entertaining side of what the company does will be highlighted Saturday Dec. 12 at 1 p.m., as it presents its Hilarapy Virtual Stage Comedy Show.

In the online presentation, graduates and current students of the program will take to the ‘stage’ to present a festive-season version of one of the company’s regular showcases.

Tickets are $7 (in US currency – which makes transactions simpler since Hilarapy offerings are now presented globally) at https://hilarapy.kartra.com/calendar/virtualstage

A new area for Hilarapy – but one that fits right in with the company’s philosophy – is ‘laughing yoga.’

It’s not, technically, a form of yoga, they say – but it is based on the scientific principle that even the act of laughing releases natural ‘feel good’ chemicals produced by the human body, boosting our immune system, reducing stress and alleviating depression. Another plus, according to Allan and Cheung, is that it works for all ages and ability-levels and doesn’t require mats or fancy workout clothing – merely a desire to laugh.

Visiting teachers Tanya Horne and Siobhan Coates are currently conducting regular online classes on Monday evenings and Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, and the concept is proving so popular that Allan and Cheung have decided to showcase it for others in two upcoming free events.

The 45-minute Laughing Yoga Holiday Party (Dec. 13 and Dec. 20, at 10 a.m.) is available for singles, couples or families, by registering at https://www.hilarapyhub.com/laughing-yoga-holiday-party

Also on the horizon is another free event, the Seniors Seasonal Comedy Café (Dec. 16 at 1 p.m.), featuring Hilarapy with Allan and friends, plus Steve ‘Elvis’ Elliott and MC Gordie Hogg, along with draw prizes.

For more information on all sessions and events available through Hilarapy, visit hilarapy.com

EntertainmentSurreyWhite Rock

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The City of Surrey is seeking public input on its walking routes, including Semiahmoo Trail. (Tracy Holmes photo)
Surrey seeks input from seniors on city’s walking routes

Online survey is part of city’s Age Friendly Strategy

Chief Constable Norm Lipinski, Surrey Police Service. (Submitted photo)
Surrey chief constable says ‘comprehensive’ public engagement to be done this year

Norm Lipinski says Surrey Police Service has ‘good momentum’

Dyllan Petrin is charged related to an ongoing investigation in Surrey involving a kidnapping and assault that occurred in July, 2019. (Photo: Surrey RCMP)
Man arrested in connection to kidnapping, murder investigations: Surrey RCMP

Police say Dyllan Petrin was arrested in Vancouver

Crews work to clear the aftermath of a three-vehicle collision that occurred Wednesday morning (Jan. 20, 2021) at the intersection of 16 Avenue and 156 Street. (Tracy Holmes photo)
One person to hospital following three-vehicle collision in South Surrey

Police say it appears one driver went through intersection ‘as if it was not even there’

Surrey-raised forward Jujhar Khaira in action with Edmonton Oilers. (Photo: nhl.com)
Q&A: Surrey’s Jujhar Khaira credits parents for their hard work on his path to NHL

Port Kells-raised player talks about his journey to pro hockey with Edmonton Oilers

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier, health officials to discuss next steps in COVID immunization plan

Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine the province expected by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production issues

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Most Read