Health is no laughing matter - or is it?

Despite ill health there is always room for some laughs, some learning and some creative expression.

Feature by Simone Gray | 11 Jan 2007
A short or a long-term illness is a lonely and scary time. Sufferers often have little to smile about. In Glasgow, though, a band of cheerful souls who have been affected by the issues facing ill people have recognised that despite ill health there is always room for laughs, learning and creative expression.

Universal Comedy received charitable status in mid 2006 and has since embarked on an ambitious project to improve the wellbeing and outlook of ill people in Glasgow through the use of comedy workshops and skills training courses. From their own experiences, they believe that all sorts of short term and long term ailments like diabetes, cancer, and epilepsy are often aggravated by a sense of isolation from day to day life. By offering sufferers a friendly and relaxed environment where the study of comedy takes the spotlight and their respective illnesses are banished backstage, the team at Universal Comedy believe they can empower people to improve their lives, focus on a brighter future, express themselves and have a good old guffaw at the lighter side of life.

As of yet they have run only short taster workshops and have not yet embarked on their longer-term training plans, which are to set to kick off early in 2007. The taster sessions held thus far have already included a variety of private and professional groups made up of people with health problems including working with groups like The Gorbals Healthy Living Initiative and the North Glasgow Wellbeing Initiative.

The sessions usually warm up with the specially chosen tutors introducing the art form of comedy. From there the newest comedic recruits get to take a look at their own lives and use their everyday experiences to develop their own storytelling skills. Laura Dolan, the general manager of the charity, says that it is during this time that their experiences and feelings are aired and the results are hugely beneficial and entertaining. In the last part of the three-hour session the group are given the task of developing adverts for items with hilarious results.

Already, due to the cross section of people, skills and ailments, the results of these sessions have been fascinating. In fact they have inspired almost a full house of people wanting to be a further part of the experience with many describing their time spent under the tutelage of Universal Comedy as uplifting and inspiring - a great start to an enriching project.

If you are affected by health issues and would like to participate in any of the work done by the charity, whether as an audience member or a participant, check out their website at