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Declan's experience on our Stand Out course...

A few years ago I was approached by a lady at my school named Mrs Harris, who asked if I would be interested in taking part in a course named Stand-Out. She explained to me that the course took a group of selected young people and taught them how to perform a basic stand-up comedy routine over the course of several weeks, and concluded with a show for parents and family members.

At first, I was somewhat taken aback. I mean, why pick me? I had always been a pretty reserved person, to say the least. I certainly couldn't imagine myself standing in front of an audience and telling jokes. And yet, something about the idea interested me. I reckoned that I should at least give it at go.

I turned up to the first session and met Sam Avery, the comedian who was going to guide us through the course. I liked Sam and the other young people on the course all seemed pretty nice, but I was still very hesitant when it came to expressing my ideas and unsure if I would ultimately be able to take part in the show. After just a few short weeks, however my outlook had changed dramatically. I got on well with all the other participants, and had discovered that I had a lot in common with some of them.

Soon enough, the night of the show arrived. I felt pretty nervous about getting up on the stage in front of an actual audience for the first time. But at the same time, I was glad that I had reached this point. When Sam called out my name and it was my turn to come up onto the stage, I got up on the stage and launched myself into the stand-up routine that I had scripted during the course. As I ran through my material, I rapidly began to feel all of my earlier nerves evaporate. When my routine was finished, I felt an enormous sense of accomplishment, perhaps the greatest that I have experienced in my life so far.

That was just the start of my involvement with the Comedy trust. I was later invited to the Stand-Out semi-finals, and was lucky enough to then proceed to the final. This presented me with the privilege of performing in St Georges Hall, and gave me the opportunity to meet more young comedians and make more friends.

In 2013, I was invited to take part in a year-long project celebrating the heritage of the city of Liverpool through comedy. I hugely enjoyed taking part in this project, which allowed me to develop a better understanding of more advanced comedy techniques, such as physical comedy, character comedy and sketch comedy. I have many great memories of this project, but one of my favourites has to be the surprise birthday party which my friends arranged during one session.

I have gained so much from the comedy trust. And I would encourage anyone with an opportunity to get involved in similar projects to do so. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.


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