Lizzie Allan is a professional comedian and a registered therapeutic counselor. During a research performance project, while studying comedy at university, she discovered the healing benefits of comedy therapy. It led her to decide to use her own challenging life experience as a show’s springboard. A psychiatrist at the same psychiatric hospital where she had been a patient many years earlier saw it and asked her to perform for staff and patients. Soon, she was performing for various audiences with similar lived experiences of mental health issues and addiction. The feedback was excellent, and Lizzie realized her story told with humor started much-needed conversations in the community.
“I began teaching others to tell their story, and Addictive Comedy was born. After moving to Canada, from the UK, in 2015, I trained as a therapeutic counselor, which added more value to my work with clients. Over the years, I’ve created a beautiful comedy therapy formula that helps people break free from the damaging effects of shame and stigma. In 2019, we rebranded as Hilarapy, and we’ve been going from strength to strength ever since.”
Lizzie has learned that the only barrier to her success is inner criticism, ego voice, or small self. “Many stories exist about a woman’s place in the world that do not serve us, and I believe we can do anything we want if we refuse to adopt those stories,” she quips. “The more I seek to grow spiritually and emotionally, the easier my path becomes. I’m most inspired by people who live extraordinary lives from a place of great faith and love; Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and the creative and beautiful Maya Angelou.”
As a rule, Lizzie takes a vulnerable approach to her work on stage, telling stories about her experiences that have caused shame and self-stigma. “Facing my shame in therapy and on the stage has been transformative. I’ve discovered great power and confidence from meeting myself with light and love, creating connection and sameness.”
Hilarapy is a complementary therapy. Some people can feel uncomfortable, so Lizzie always ensures her clients have a solid foundation before diving deep. For example, people struggling with active addiction are not a good fit. Recovering from crippling issues would be the first step toward healing. Once other issues are overcome, Hilarapy would be there to complement complete healing.
She has always loved comedy and its ability to unite people. Making people laugh was second nature to her, and she has developed and honed her skills over the years.
“Staying calm when faced with the unknown is powerful,” she discloses. “I always visualize my ideal outcomes in advance; it’s my key to success. I like to check in with my team to give everyone a chance to check in with themselves.”
It was revealing to know that Lizzie, so far, has never experienced any resistance when she leads men. It was also sobering to hear that women in their profession don’t have any hardships getting promoted. Thus, all she has to do is balance work and life responsibilities.
She advises other women to trust their power. They should own their story and shine their light. “I’m a gay woman who spent years rejecting myself. Before you can truly accept others, you must accept who you are. I am so lucky to have a mother who is beautiful inside and out. I appeciated how open and honest she was about the family trauma and her own healing journey. She modeled resilience and made it easier for me to heal and embrace vulnerability as a superpower. My mom’s inspiring guidance, coupled with the presence of Women of Options, both lightened my load. Thus, I would like to mention the association of Women of Options’ unique youth fundraiser. I’m excited to be performing a solo comedy special on May 28th at The Anvil Centre. Find details at https://hilarapy.com/events-2/