British Columbia

Panic attacks and anxiety fuel comedy at Fringe Fest show

“As I approached 40, I started … to have a bit of an inventory, taking stock, and I started second guessing some of my choices and started to have almost a crisis of what have I done? Where am I going? All these things that are typical of a mid-life crisis.”

The Lion, the Bitch and the Wardrobe runs at Performance Works until Sept. 18

Actor, comedian and street performer Sharon Mahoney explores a crippling crisis of self in her one-woman show The Lion, the Bitch and the Wardrobe. (sharonmahoney.com)

Anxiety and panic attacks may not sound like the stuff of stand up comedy, but Sharon Mahoney is not your average stand-up comic.

She is the creator and performer behind a one-woman show coming to the Vancouver Fringe Festival called The Lion, the Bitch and the Wardrobe.

"For me, it was leading up to 40, and I chose a very different, unconventional life path … I never really wanted to have the traditional settling down, having a family," the stand-up comic and world-travelling street performer told The Early Edition guest host Stephen Quinn.

"It seemed as I approached 40, I started … to have a bit of an inventory, taking stock, and I started second guessing some of my choices and started to have almost a crisis of what have I done? Where am I going? All these things that are typical of a mid-life crisis."

Therapy and recovery

Mahoney was hospitalized for a panic attack and ended up in therapy.

Once she started to recover, she says, she started talking about it in her comedy sets, where it got a "really strong" reaction from audiences who appreciated being able to laugh at those experiences instead of feeling bad about them.

"Everybody experiences this, to one degree or another, at one point in their life," Mahoney said.

"Once we start talking about it, and ... providing resources and active methods for people to cope with this, to get through it, to get on with their life, that for me is the most important thing that needs to be more brought into our society."

The Lion, the Bitch and the Wardrobe premiers Sept. 9 and runs until Sept. 18 at Performance Works.

With files from CBC Radio's The Early Edition


To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Panic attacks and anxiety fuel comedy at Fringe Fest show

now