COMEDIAN Hazel Humphrey’s CV may read like a notice board at a job centre, but it has all been rich pickings for her comedy material.

As a stand-up comic for the past seven years, Hazel has drawn from her life and her long list of jobs, including a benefits investigator, data analyst, Royal Mail customer services officer, social care adviser, strawberry picker and stand-up comedy tutor, among others.

She said: “I’ve encountered some amazing characters, who I can draw on through these and all my studies.

“I also grew up in a rather rough part of Liverpool and was raised by my dad with weekends spent at my rather scary nan’s place – which definitely prepares for having a thick skin on stage.”

Leaving Liverpool in 1990, Hazel moved to Colchester aged 18 to study philosophy at Essex University.

It wasn’t until 2003 she started doing stand-up, after attending a comedy workshop at Colchester Arts Centre.

Hazel immediately started gigging and soon found her own style of comedy.

She said: “My style is personal and about my quirky life.

“I talk about my life growing up. Things like my mother leaving when I was young and my dad bringing me up. I say that it was normal and I thought it was the longest game of peek-a-boo my mum had ever played,”

Hazel, who now lives in Wivenhoe, added: “I started out trying to tell the jokes dead pan, but they didn’t work as well as when I let my bubbliness come through.

“I think people like it because it’s honest and they trust you.”

Exhausted from gigging in London, she decided to set up a comedy club at Essex University in 2004 and as the promoter, she booked professional and new acts and dealt with the financial side of things.

Hazel has never been afraid to delve into her personal life with her jokes.

She said: “There is a fine line between what is sad and what is funny.

“When I sit down to write it is a real discipline and I sometimes wake up at 2am with an idea and have to write it down.

“I did that when me and my ex-husband were having problems. I woke up and scribbled down six jokes – and realised I’d written it on our marriage certificate!”

One thing that always troubled Hazel, 38, is nerves.

“Confidence doesn’t just come. I was always terrified, and still am! I always say it is the best laxativ,” she said.

“It isn’t just me though, I have seen comedians who go on TV who still get nerves. I discovered the important thing is to use the adrenaline.” Her experience as a promoter came in handy when she set up the comedy club, the Funny Farm, with fellow comedian Tony Cowards in Wivenhoe in 2005.

The comedy nights were held at Wivenhoe Football Club for the past five years and have had a mixture of professional acts, including Perrier award nominees and winners and TV performers, such as Robin Ince.

It no longer runs at the premises due to problems at the football club.

Since 2007, Colchester Funny Farm has been set up in different venues and featured comics such as Shazia Mirza and Jo Caulfield.

The club is now looking for a another suitable venue.

This month Hazel organised a series of comedy workshops at Love Bistro, at the Minories Art Gallery, in Colchester.

Currently working temporarily in Portsmouth, Hazel is keen to get back to promote Funny Farm events in Essex.

She said: “I am planning to be back in the summer when we hope to have more dates in Wivenhoe and Colchester.”

Now Hazel has turned her hand to writing of a different variety with her upcoming book, Furious Middle Aged Women, a humorous insight into all the annoyances that strike women in their late thirties onwards.

She said: “It is talking about ageing, but being able to laugh about it and it being ok.”

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