A LAUGHABLE business has been set up by two South Warwickshire entrepreneurs.
Anne Docherty from Stratford and Mark Hinds from Warwick are the creative minds behind Comedy at Work – a new business bringing stand-up to venues across the country while also supporting local charities.
But the journey so far has not always been a laughing matter for the plucky pair who have both overcome personal setbacks to embark on the new chapter in their lives.
They met at a six-week comedy course on which Mark enrolled following the collapse of his marriage after more than 20 years.
The 47-year-old former stockbroker turned London cabbie moved from the capital a few months ago to establish the new business with mum of three Anne.
Mark said: “As a London cabbie for 18 years, every day I would drive past a place in Regents Park that had an advert outside for Stand Up Comedy and I always thought to myself I should do that!”
For 43-year-old Anne the new venture, which started out as a dare, has now become a new passion as well as a lifeline from mental health struggles and a job with a software company in which she felt trapped.
A friend suggested she do the scariest thing she could think of – and that was stand-up comedy.
Anne explained: “The idea was I would put myself through this course and do a five-minute comedy set at the end of it and then never do it again.
“But I just kept going back. I discovered there is something quite magical about making people laugh. It’s unique in the sense that you’re allowed to say whatever you like, whatever is on your mind, as long as you try and make it funny.”
Anne has now turned a corner and is excited about her new future.
“My day is enriched now, my mental health is much better because this is something that is a joy to do. Poor mental health was forcing me to re-evaluate my life. When I’m more experienced on the comedy scene, I will have the confidence to do a set about it.”
Both have no regrets about taking the leap into the comedy spotlight.
Mark said: “It was a big change but I now feel that this is the way my life should be.
“Yes, we do have responsibilities and kids and mortgages and stuff, that’s fine, but at the end of the day no one’s going to say after you’ve gone, ‘he was a great mortgage payer!”
Anne added: “It’s just so exciting at the moment because every day is different and that’s so different to the day job I was doing before.”
“Even on those nights where I completely bomb – the thing we’re all frightened of as a comedian – they are what I need because they show me how to improve my comedy and it also shows me that I’ll survive. If that’s the worst thing that’s going to happen, then I survived it. That frees you up as a performer, not to care too much, which makes you a better comedian.”
And the funny business partners, who both draw on material from their own lives, have big ambitions, including to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and appear on television.
* Comedy At Work is aiming to get local communities giggling for good causes with their current tour of villages across Warwickshire.
Laughs at Lapworth Village Hall on Saturday (October 19) will be supporting Molly Olly’s Wishes which will retain any profits from the bar being run by the charity’s volunteers.
The next gigs are at Kineton Village Hall on Friday October 25, Marton Village Hall on Saturday October 26 and Hockley Heath Village Hall on Saturday November 23. Visit www.comedyatwork.com for further details.