Sofie Hagen and Scottee: ‘Fat should be something you flaunt’

The comedian and her artist-activist friend have teamed up for Hamburger Queen, a beauty pageant that celebrates fatnessA few months ago, I went to see a show and when I got to my seat, I sat down. Or rather, I tried to sit down. I realised quite quick…

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Booze, bankruptcy, brain haemorrhage: the comics turning tragedy into laughs

A former alcoholic, a cancer survivor and a man who lost all his money in a Bitcoin crash are among the comics coming back from the brink at the Edinburgh fringe

I didn’t start drinking until I was 18,” says Matt Rees. “That’s quite a rarity for someone in the UK. But straight away, I recognised that I liked it – and I knew that one day I’d have to stop.”

Rees, who was born in Maesteg, south Wales, is making his debut at this year’s Edinburgh fringe with Happy Hour, a look back at his battle with alcohol. He started performing in 2010 and quickly scooped up some new act awards. Then, two years ago, his comedy career stalled as he experienced problems with addiction.

‘It’s normal to go on stage after a few pints, and it’s fine to be hungover the next day. Someone with a normal job would’ve been fired’

Related: 50 shows to see at the Edinburgh fringe 2018

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‘Improv saved my life’: the comedy classes helping people with anxiety

Once the domain of aspiring performers, improv courses are increasingly being attended by students experiencing mental health problems

“Your heart’s beating faster, you feel all these eyes on you, your body reacts with panic.” No, it’s not the discarded first line of Eminem’s Lose Yourself, but Alex MacLaren’s description of how his students feel in work meetings, job interviews or even the pub. MacLaren teaches improvisational comedy at the Spontaneity Shop in London. At first, its courses attracted performers. Now, he estimates half his students are seeking help with anxiety or confidence.

It’s a trend noted by other improv teachers. In Manchester, Brainne Edge runs workshops as head of ComedySportz UK. In the past five years she’s seen the proportion of non-performers attending her courses rise to around 75%.

It teaches you to have a better link between your brain and your mouth

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Lydia Towsey: how I discovered the Venus in me

From Botticelli to glossy magazines, women have been idealised and misrepresented for centuries. Performance poet Lydia Towsey reveals how her own near-fatal eating disorder set her on a path to explore new ways of looking at female bodies

Botticelli’s painting of the Birth of Venus was the first female nude painted and exhibited life size, and in many ways the medieval blueprint for every covergirl to come. It was about the birth of beauty, sexuality and glamour. But what would happen if, instead of washing up on an ancient Cypriot beach on her magnificent scallop shell, the Roman goddess were to arrive naked and vulnerable on a UK beach in the 21st century? This question is the starting point for my show, The Venus Papers.

It’s about lots of things – a theatrical performance combining poetry, humour, art, movement and music, in which I introduce Venus to my world. She encounters customs officers, tabloid newspapers, the male gaze, bars, Primark, life modelling, the perils of breastfeeding in public and something I’ve previously struggled to talk about in my work – the eating disorder I had for approximately seven years.

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Why I wrote a comedy show about incontinence | Elaine Miller

As a physiotherapist, I know a third of women don’t have reliable body control. I wanted to raise awareness of this taboo subject at Edinburgh festival

I’m a physiotherapist, and as a fresh-faced graduate, my ambition was to work in elite sports. I did it, too, thriving on team spirit, travel and free trainers.

Then I had three babies in four years, each blessed with a bigger head than the one before. A dramatic sneeze during a zumba class showed me (and everyone there) that my pelvic floor had been reduced to rubble. In that excruciating instant, I realised that what really mattered was not being able to jump a tiny bit farther, or run a bit faster than others, but, being able to jump and run without wet pants.

Related: Ed Patrick is a junior doctor who’s finding the funny side | Sarah Johnson

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Confronting my own mortality in my 20s has forced me to make the most of life | Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski

A spiteful genetic disease has meant regular chemotherapy for the last four years. But it’s also made me appreciate life all the more

• Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski is a journalist and comedian

The chemotherapy ward. Surely one of the most fearsome places imaginable, filled with the ill, the dying, the victims of that universal disease: mortality. This month will be the fourth anniversary of the first of my own, now monthly, visits to Guy’s hospital’s Cancer Centre in the shadow of the Shard in central London. Four years. Obviously most people get chemo for only a few months so this is a pretty rare experience.

Related: How to get through chemotherapy: Decca Aitkenhead on cancer treatment

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The Struggle to Maintain a Comedy-Work-Fitness Life Balance

Earlier this month, comedy scene vet Chris Gethard’s one-man special Career Suicide premiered on HBO. In it, Gethard addresses his struggles with depression, anxiety, and more. The difficult relationship comedians have with their mental health has been well-established, and Gethard isn’t the only one who doesn’t shy away from discussing it openly. Comedians like Jacqueline Novak […]

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The Struggle to Maintain a Comedy-Work-Fitness Life Balance

Earlier this month, comedy scene vet Chris Gethard’s one-man special Career Suicide premiered on HBO. In it, Gethard addresses his struggles with depression, anxiety, and more. The difficult relationship comedians have with their mental health has been well-established, and Gethard isn’t the only one who doesn’t shy away from discussing it openly. Comedians like Jacqueline Novak […]

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‘The Dumbbells’ Find a Balance Between Being Funny and Fit

Perhaps it’s comedy’s self-deprecating backdrop that causes it to rarely intersect with health and fitness. Most people tend to side with the Average Joes over Blade, Laser, and Blazer from Globo Gym, but there is room for comedians to be both healthy and funny, especially in today’s food-conscious society. That’s where Eugene Cordero and Ryan […]

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Checking in with Gabriel Iglesias three weeks after health problems postponed his Fluffymania world tour

A few months ago, Gabriel Iglesias was eagerly looking forward to 2017 as he planned to mark his 20th anniversary in stand-up comedy with a global “Fluffymania” tour. But diabetes was taking its toll on Fluffy more than he thought, and he abruptly postponed the rest of his tour at the beginning of March. As […]

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