HOLYROOD’S Garden Lobby will be the setting for a very different comedy night next week.

A group of autistic adults are set to take to the stage for an evening of standup to celebrate the 20th anniversary of The National Autistic Society Scotland.

For those on stage, this will be the first time they’ve tried to make the funny in front of an audience, and it’s no small gathering of friends either. More than 100 guests are expected at the event next Tuesday, and they’re all looking to be entertained.

However, over the last nine weeks, the budding comics have had the training of standup circuit regulars Janey Godley and Ashley Storrie. In workshops held by the mother-daughter team the comedians have learned to write, hone and perform their own sets.

Donna Holland, from Glasgow, will be one of the people trying to prise chuckles out of the audience. She says the workshops have been an incredible experience: “I’ve really enjoyed the comedy workshops and I wish there were more opportunities for autistic people to meet up and actually do things. I feel like I can be myself, it’s somewhere that I fit in,” she said.

She added: “Janey and Ashley are very funny. They understand our sense of humour and they have a good attitude to everyone in the group. I did some improv with Janey and she made me feel comfortable.”

Gordon Wallace, from South Lanarkshire, is set to perform a routine about his autism, science and art. He said: “The workshops have been a great opportunity to meet new people and learn about what different people find funny. You need to be able to process audience’s reactions and social cues in order to perform. I have learned these things.”

A recent poll by the society found that 73 per cent of autistic people in Scotland feel the public considers them to be “anti-social”, and 80 per cent think they are judged as being “shy”. This project is an attempt to challenge those stereotypes.

Routines that will premiere at Holyrood include an improvised sketch between two wizards, a long and winding piece on procrastination, and romantic maths gags. More than 100 guests are expected to attend, including the Minister for Childcare and Early Years, Mark McDonald, who is both the father of an autistic child and an amateur stand up comedian.

Jenny Paterson, director of The National Autistic Society Scotland, said: “I am so proud of our budding comedians, who have created funny, clever routines to perform.

“Our charity has achieved a huge amount over the past 20 years, and we will continue to provide innovative services and campaign on issues affecting autistic people for the next 20 years and beyond.”

For the two professional comics this wasn’t just another job, but an experience that was incredibly personal. Ashley has aspects of the condition, much like her dad Sean.

She said: “I have mild autistic tendencies so I was rather worried about doing comedy workshops with autistic people, but the workshops were so amazing. So many different styles of comedy and I found my own geeky geek pals who are as obsessed about the history of comedy as me. It’s been the best thing I have ever done.”

Janey said: “The comedy workshops were something I never expected to be emotionally invested in. Comedy is my life – I don’t expect it to be anyone else’s life. Working alongside Ashley and seeing how good she was with people with autism made me so proud. My husband has autism and Ashley has definite personality strands relating to the spectrum. She loved the classes and it was so rewarding for both of us.”