My name is Ged Jaras and I have just spent a most enjoyable couple of weeks volunteering with the Comedy Trust at the 2016 Liverpool Comedy Festival.
Why did I volunteer? First a few brief details. Like so many people, my first contact with the trust was through doing a comedy course with Sam Avery. Having never attempted straight stand up before, I could think of nothing scarier to attempt. Also, having experienced lengthy spells of mental health problems and all that follows with that, I wanted to set myself a challenge. After thoroughly enjoying the course and the show we put on, I was inspired to carry on challenging myself. The upshot of this was that I found more gigs and with the help of a good friend, I was able to set up my own open mic night as well as secure funding to run my own series of comedy workshops. The latter was done with the help and expertise of Sam and the trust.
So when I heard through the grapevine that they were looking for volunteers to help with this year’s festival, I leapt at the chance like a fresh water salmon on a promise! What was really good about this was that they wanted people to contribute in all sorts of way. Whether it was admin, publicity or front of house, they wanted people to contribute their skills. I was happy to help out in any way that I could but when I asked if I could film a couple of promos to help with publicity, the answer was a simple “yes please”! Just like that (as a certain Welsh magician was fond of saying)! And so I found myself helping out at The Funny Looking Fringe Festival event at 81 Renshaw St, organised by the fantastic Gav Cross. Having run my own monthly comedy night, I immediately understood what Gav was trying to do with this fringe festival. I soon came to realize the magnitude of what he was doing. 43 separate shows at one venue in two and a half weeks. Like everybody at the trust whom I have come into contact with, Gav was enthusiastic, kind and it was a genuine pleasure to be able to contribute to what he was doing here.
Having had experiences with mental health problems, there are two things in my life that help keep me on the straight and narrow. One is being a musician and the other is humour/comedy. And for the latter, I will always be indebted to Sam as both a mentor and a friend. During my time volunteering at this event, I have had nothing but kind words and encouragement. You were also given perks such as a couple of free tickets for any show of choice. You also got to see a great variety of shows. Most importantly of all though, I had a blast! Whether it was filming, flyering, helping inside the venue or just meeting a lot of really nice people who were appearing or had come to watch. All in all, I can genuinely recommend volunteering with the Comedy Trust and for the Fringe Festival. The people running this want their volunteers to be happy and they have done everything they can to make me feel valued as a part of their team. So thank you to Sam, Gav, Charlene and all of the other volunteers too. I hope I can be part of this again next year!
In the meantime you can get a flavour of some the events and the atmosphere of the fortnight by checking out the following links:
First Fringe Sunday – https://youtu.be/HD7pkgEafgc
Stephanie Laing – https://youtu.be/jPADlBdux94
A J Hill – https://youtu.be/KkX66RYNtSo
Adele & Tom, Yolav & Graham – https://youtu.be/AruSGydgl-I
Eddie Fortune – https://youtu.be/HLT2D96c8Rc
Sam Avery Podcast – https://youtu.be/8JRtEwixhg8