On Sunday night, following weeks of fundraising for Changing Faces‘ Face your Fears Stand-Up Comedy Challenge, I finally walked on stage in front of a room full of strangers and did a five-minute stand-up comedy set.

And guess what? I enjoyed every second of those five minutes. Of course, I was scared, petrified and, battling a stomach bug, my first rehearsal earlier in the morning had been rubbish, so I wasn’t aiming high. All I asked for was to survive the evening and not be sick on stage.

But as the compère introduced me, I was instantly energised by the positive response from the audience and, bursting with adrenaline, I went for it. And it worked.

The audience laughed in the right places and afterwards several people came up to me to say how good they thought I was.

For a complete amateur with barely a weekend’s worth of training, I think I did rather well. (You can judge for yourselves once the official video recording of the show is made available. I’ll make sure to post it on my blog.)

fly-698629_1280The comedy bug may even have bitten me. For, ever since the show I’ve been thinking of possible stories and jokes to use next time. Next time?

Whatever happens in the future, I came away from this experience with a renewed appreciation for the importance of play, irrespective of age.

One of the first things Logan Murray, the comedian training us in the art of stand-up comedy, said to us was “don’t try to be funny; just allow yourself to play.”

Those were magical, liberating words and I soaked them up like a sponge, inhabiting their message as I set about developing my first ever comedy act.

If I’ve learnt something this year, it is that all creativity comes out of play. And out of creativity comes productivity.

Take this blog for example. I’d had in mind to start a blog for quite some time but struggled to make it happen. Perfectionism and my internal critic got in the way.

Only when I allowed myself to play freely, without worrying about actually producing something, did I become productive.

Similarly, during the stand-up comedy training last weekend, I found that when I sat down and tried to think of material for the show, I came up with almost nothing. Instead, it was through play, games, improvisations and a lot of laughter that I discovered my material.

So this Christmas I look forward to spending some quality time building Lego with my children and playing games – all in the service of creativity.

“We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything, than when we are at play.” ― Charles E. Schaefer