Skip to main content
Play the National Lottery

Brightsparks Comedy Asylum

Brightsparks Comedy Asylum is a series of comedy workshops with mental health service users culminating in a series of live performances in clubs, psychiatric units and conferences throughout the East Midlands region. Run by volunteers, it uses comedy as therapy.

Brightsparks Comedy Asylum is a series of comedy workshops with mental health service users culminating in a series of live performances in clubs, psychiatric units and conferences throughout the East Midlands region.

They say laughter is the best medicine and the BrightSparks Comedy Asylum is proving this to be true. Run by volunteers, it uses comedy as therapy with workshops for mental health patients. It started in 2007 in response to a request by mental health patients and has run a 12-week course every winter ever since, led by psychiatric nurse turned comic Rob Gee. People who aren’t confident enough to perform on stage can get involved in other areas, such as props and costumes, or directing.

Now in its 12th year, it enables a group of adults with severe and enduring mental illnesses to work with Rob on a series of workshops that culminate in a performance at the annual Comedy Asylum show at Leicester Comedy Festival each February, in front of a general audience. Participants also perform regularly in the local area, outside of the 12-week course.


“The process of creating and performing your own comedy - whether it's stand up, songs or sketches – is enormously empowering. Participants consistently report improvements in self-esteem and teamwork skills. People tell us they wouldn’t be alive without it. For some of the most socially isolated, it may be one of the only reasons they have for leaving the house all week. It also works on a satirical level, by laughing at some of the more disquieting aspects of the mental health system. Because we regularly perform to general audiences it also helps to break down some of the preconceptions people can sometimes have about those with long term mental health problems.”

The Comedy Asylum has been a massive success each year, and with our five-year Reaching Communities grant, we've been able to extend the reach and breadth of the project to new and existing participants in Leicestershire and across the East Midlands."

Project manager Sallie Varnam

“The process of creating and performing your own comedy - whether it's stand up, songs or sketches – is enormously empowering. Participants consistently report improvements in self-esteem and teamwork skills. People tell us they wouldn’t be alive without it. For some of the most socially isolated, it may be one of the only reasons they have for leaving the house all week. It also works on a satirical level, by laughing at some of the more disquieting aspects of the mental health system. Because we regularly perform to general audiences it also helps to break down some of the preconceptions people can sometimes have about those with long term mental health problems.”

Wedi’ch ysbrydoli? Ymgeisiwch am arian

Wedi’i ysbrydoli gan Brightsparks Comedy Asylum? Ymgeisiwch am arian i gefnogi’ch cymuned eich hunan. Chwilio am nawdd

Dros 565,000 o brosiectau wedi’u hariannu

The National Lottery has given over £40bn to local projects just like this one to support your local community. Discover more local projects in your community

Pob prosiect