Comedian Felicity Ward brings her new show 50% More Likely to Die to the CCA in Glasgow for World Mental Health Day. Drawing on her own experiences with anxiety and mental health, it is honest, thoughtful and hilarious, so don’t miss your chance to see the only Scottish date of her tour. She spoke to us about why her recent comedy has focused on mental health themes and how leaving her bag on a bus transformed her new show.
Tell us about your first mental health themed comedy show, 2015's What If There Is No Toilet?. What made you decide to do it?
I had just made a documentary on mental illness and had run out of ideas. I also figured that most people have used a toilet, or know someone who has used a toilet - so a broad starting ground.
How would you describe the reaction to that show? Did it surprise you?
Overwhelming. Especially in the UK. I’m still getting emails from people saying that they went to see a doctor because of seeing the show. So, yeah, I’m still pretty shocked that it would do anything other than make people laugh.
There's been a noticeable rise in the number of comedians doing shows about mental health in the past couple of years. Why do you think this is?
People are more used to hearing about it, so maybe comics feel easier talking about it. Or the other way round. I mean Ruby Wax has been making mental health comedy for years, so it’s not a new phenomenon. I just happen to start at a time when people were ready to hear it.
Can you tell us a bit about your new show?
Well, I had this really very elaborate plan to write a hard-hitting comedy show about the statistics of mental health, and then just before my first preview I left a bag on the bus which had my laptop (with said show on it), wallet, keys, underwater headphones (you read that right) inside. The coincidences that took place before and after that event were so coincidental that I couldn’t do anything but change the narrative of the story to a lo-fi, stand up thriller about a lady with control issues who loses her bag.
What's it like being on tour for the first time?
I’m literally writing this on the way to Exeter, my first tour stop. So far, so good. Except for a girl who seemed very worried whether she’d missed her stop to Westbury.
Tell us your favourite joke.
A crab wants to marry a Lobster Princess. The Lobster King refuses their love as the crab is a “side walker”.
The next night at the Lobster ball, the door flies open. All the lobsters stop and watch as the crab walks one leg in front of the other, straight on, up to the Lobster King.
He walks right up to his face, looks him in the eye and says, “I’m shitfaced.”
Image: Claire Thomas