Comedian Cathy Jones on overcoming stage fright, possible ADHD diagnosis and finding herself

Cathy Jones, a longtime comedian, actress and writer. best known for her role in This Hour Has 22 Minutes, says it was a book that helped her understand and overcome the anxiety of performing on stage.

This Hour Has 22 Minutes comedian 'wanted to die' from stress of writing

Cathy Jones says of all the characters she has played, she enjoys being herself the most. (@cathyjones/Twitter)

When Cathy Jones takes to a stage, she sometimes brings a friend.

"When I go on stage now, I say, 'You are coming with me.' I bring that with me and stop being embarrassed about who I am when I see the audience," Jones told Daybreak Alberta on Saturday.

Jones, a longtime comedian, actress and writer, best known for her role in This Hour Has 22 Minutes, says it was a book that helped her understand and overcome the anxiety of performing on stage.

"There is a great book called The Tools and it has these five tools. One of them was, when you come out on stage and you are embarrassed about who you are … we tuck part of ourselves behind ourselves because we are a little bit embarrassed about who we are. We bring that version of ourselves on stage with us."

With decades of practice, the 61-year-old is in a different place today.

"If I want to sit down, I can sit down. If I want to lie on the floor, I can lie on the floor, I really have a lot of freedom. I am not in the middle of a comedy fest where they say, 'Next up!' and I have to come out and do my tight five minutes, which freaked me out."

The St. John's native says her first venture to the big city as a young comedian involved owning a stereotype.

"In 1973 we went to Toronto. We got a lot of funny, stupid Newfie jokes thrown at us," Jones said.

"When we developed our show (CODCO) we immediately started doing characters out of Newfoundland that were somewhat caricatures of the typical Newfoundlander but they were very true characters but over the top a little bit. It demonstrated that we are in on this, we know what you think about us, we sort of turned the Newfie joke on its head."

This Hour Has 22 Minutes cast members Mark Critch (l-r), Cathy Jones, Susan Kent and Shaun Majumder arrive on the red carpet at the 2015 Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Of all of the characters Jones has brought to life, today one stands out. But it's complicated.

"I love being myself," she said.

"You do ratchet it up a little bit. When the camera is on it is very hard to be just completely yourself. I am not sure if I am exactly the same when I am being taped and telling you my philosophy as I am when I am in the room with you and I am excited about my philosophy and I am telling you. I don't know."

Jones believes she has had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) all of her life and will have the formal testing in April.

Cathy Jones and Mary Walsh pose for a photograph on the red carpet at the gala for the new movie "The Grand Seduction" during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

"Mary Walsh used to say it to me, 'Oh my God, Cathy, you have got ADD' and I didn't know what it was," she said.

"When I used to have to write for the TV show, I would get to the point where I was wanting to die from the stress because my brain doesn't work in a linear way. It took me a long time to realize that my brain is just different from other people's."

Jones says as a result, every day is a different.

"When I get up in the morning, no two days ever go the same. I know I am going to have hot water with lemon and I know I am going to have green tea but am I going to meditate, walk the dog, do the dishes?"

One thing she does know is today she brings a world of experience to the stage.

Her third one-woman show, Stranger To Hard Work, opens at the High Performance Rodeo on Tuesday night in Calgary.

With files from Daybreak Alberta


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