Choosing to look at life through a humorous lens is Nelson woman Mary Glaisyer’s philosophy.
And during an era when, she says, humour is needed more than anything, Mary has begun sharing her outlook on life through comedy.
“In hard times laughter is so good for the health. If you are laughing, you are not thinking of anything else,” she says.
For 70-something Mary, story-telling is central, as she draws on her life experiences, especially anything bizarre but true.
Take a current example.
Mary’s recent ‘set’ is all about Christmas presents. She hopes that nobody buys her anything new.
My husband was pre-loved and I prefer the things that I own to be pre-loved too.”
Mary says she enjoys every aspect of doing comedy, from writing and performing it to meeting people afterwards.
Mary values the opportunity to chat with audience members after a show.
“It’s very useful to get their feedback and we get individual responses. Everyone responds differently according to their background.”
Especially fulfilling is hearing that people who arrived feeling sad leave feeling happier.
Connecting with homeopathy
Mary’s views on the value of laughter tie in nicely with her work as a self-employed homeopath.
More than 40 years ago Mary, her husband John and their family were living in England. Their young daughter suffered from severe hayfever.
A friend was training in homeopathy (a system of natural medicine) and needed people to practise on.
Mary’s daughter responded so well to the treatment that Mary decided to embark on training herself.
I love to see people getting better.”
She enrolled at the College of Homeopathy in London and qualified after four years of training. Two years later she and John decided to move to New Zealand. The couple settled in Nelson where Mary has been a practising homeopath since 1988.
It was a homeopathy conference about 10 years ago that alerted Mary to her ability to entertain.
She was to give a presentation to about 150 people and decided a joke would be a great way to start.
She says 150 people fell about laughing and it gave her a great feeling too.
And so, her new hobby was born.
Mary says her friends were delighted but not surprised.
“One friend said after the performance ‘we have been listening to this sort of thing from you for years’.”
John Clarke her ‘absolute hero’
Mary was already a fan of Kiwi humour. She describes the late John Clarke (Fred Dagg) as her “absolute hero”.
But it was watching clips of 77-year-old American humorist Jeanne Robertson on YouTube that prompted Mary to take things further.
When she read a local newspaper article about Backroom Comedy, the home of Nelson’s Comedy Scene, she decided to go along.
Most participants were much younger than Mary but one woman was in her sixties.
Mary chatted to the woman afterwards and said she would like to give it a go.
The following month Mary did a 10-minute slot which was well-received.
Since then, she has teamed up with Helen Moulder and Virginia Ward to put on two shows called “Life’s Absurdities and Other Stories”. The shows were all sold-out.
In May 2021 Mary performed at “Scratch Night”, part of the Nelson Fringe Festival.
It’s an opportunity for performers to present a short piece of their work which could be music, comedy or drama.
Mary received a very positive response to her gig.
Mary says the women hope to take the Life’s Absurdities shows around the top of the South Island to places including Havelock, Picton and Blenheim.
She is hoping, Covid restrictions permitting, to do more performances, both on her own and with others.
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If you would like Mary to visit your hometown, she can be contacted via her homeopathy website.