STAND UP: Mandy Nolan (centre) and volunteers including Sean McKeown (far left).
STAND UP: Mandy Nolan (centre) and volunteers including Sean McKeown (far left).

Surfing into stand-up fun at Tweed Shire Comedy Club

HE IS well known in the Gold Coast and North Coast surfing scenes, but sports events promoter Sean McKeown is about to stand up for cancer research.

Sean is one of 10 Tweed locals who will take part in the Stars of Tweed Shire Comedy Club to be held at Babalou in Kingscliff on June 20 under the watchful eye of Mullumbimby-based comedian Mandy Nolan.

The event, hosted by the Cancer Council, aims to raise money for cancer research.

The volunteers from all walks of life and all ages, from 19 to well into their 50s and early 60s, have been taking part in a six-week workshop at Cudgen Leagues Club with Mandy.

They have learned the secrets of improvisation, joke structures, performance techniques and topic development as well as one-on-one writing sessions.

For Sean, who runs the Australian Longboard Surfing Open at Kingscliff each year, the event is both something a little different and something he will be able to use in his everyday life.

"Cancer is something that has touched all of us. There wouldn't be one person in Australia that hasn't had their family or friends affected by cancer,” he said.

"It's just something that when the opportunity came up, I didn't think I was much of a comedian or anything, I thought hey this will be good - not just for the Cancer Council and raising some awareness and money for them but it's good for me as well. Just getting up in front of people and talking gives you more self-confidence.”

"It has also been a lot of fun, Sean admitted. I'm having a blast,” he laughed.

"I'm an event manager, I run community events, mainly sports events, and with that we have to actually get up and speak and give presentations in front of the community, whether it's sponsors talking about opportunities, whether it's at presentations, handing out trophies or just talking to everybody. It's something that is an everyday part of what I do work-wise.

"I see the benefit being that it will make me a better speaker. It will throw a bit of light-heartedness into what I talk about and certainly, with doing community events, it's all about having fun.

"This will help when I'm doing presentations - to make them just a little bit more humorous.”

For Sean there has also been an intensely personal reason for taking part in the event.

"People who know me know I have had a few health issues over the years which led to me blowing out size-wise,” he said.

"I lost self-confidence as I got bigger. The fact that I'm now addressing that both physically and mentally is something that is really good for me going forward.

"At this stage I've lost 40 kilos and I'm hoping to lose another 40 within the next 12 months.

"But I'm feeling pretty good, I'm healthy, everyone is saying I'm looking better - they could be lying but who knows?”

It's also been a good chance to network and get to know others from the Valley.

"I cannot believe the diverse range of people who have stepped up to help the Cancer Council with this project. It's been fantastic,'' Sean said.

"The people I have met through it ... we've got the celebrity to the stars Andrew, we've got 19-year-old Aspie (Asperger's) Inari who is an absolute crack-up - she's worth the price of the admission alone. None of us are actually delivering jokes as such, we're just talking about life's experiences and it's the way we're presenting them, finishing with a little punchline. I think for most of the crew that are there it's working well.”

Mandy Nolan has been an icon in the stand-up community for more than two decades but her skills don't stop there.

Apart from being a four times published writer, she has travelled Australia to sell-out crowds, closed out at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow, guest featured on ABC and SBS television, and currently writes a weekly column for a local newspaper.

Her humour is sharp, honest and speaks to a diverse audience where she has rubbed shoulders with and entertained the likes of Olivia Newton John, Jimmy Barnes, Julia Gillard and Julie Bishop.

Mandy believes she has the experience and secrets to make any student a successful comedian and find their authentic voice.

Cancer Council NSW community relations coordinator Hannah Naime said of the event: "Cancer Council believes in a cancer-free future and there are things that we can all do every day to help make this happen, starting with joining us.”

Every year in NSW alone, more than 48,000 new cases of cancer are expected to be diagnosed, and the impact on families, carers and communities is significant.

For more information or tickets, go to shirecomedyclub

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