I recently wrote a blog post for Capability Scotland as part of their #XpressUrself campaign about my experiences of expressing myself and being a stand-up comedian. You can read it below. Capability Scotland campaigns with, and provides education, employment and care services for, disabled children and adults across Scotland. Find out more on their website.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t always been good at expressing myself. In fact, despite what you see on stage, I still don’t think I am now. I’ve always been really self-conscious about myself and what other people think of me because of my disability. I guess it comes with the territory. I’ve just got used to feeling paranoid and awkward, even around people that I know. I’m incredibly shy and I’m never completely relaxed because my brain won’t let me be.
With that mind-set, maybe doing stand-up comedy was a weird choice for me. Why would I want to get up on stage and let loads of stranger’s judge me even more?! I’m still trying to figure that out! I’ll let you know when I have an answer. What I do know is that doing stand-up comedy has taught me to let go of my inhibitions a bit. When I’m up on stage I feel like I’ve found the perfect way to express myself. I have always used humour to help me feel more relaxed. I’ve always enjoyed making other people laugh, it’s a great feeling. I also think I used humour as a defence, as long as I could laugh at myself, it took some of the stigma away. Plus if I didn’t laugh, I’d most definitely cry!
When I first started doing stand up, I obviously didn’t know what to expect or what people’s reactions would be. I’d even say that I didn’t even have a ‘voice’ before I started doing comedy. Now it’s different. I feel a lot more confident for a start. I feel that people actually want to listen to me for a change. And I feel that people soon forget about the disability and just treat me as another comic who messes around on stage for a living. It gives me a lot of reasons to be positive for a change.
Of course, I couldn’t do it without advances in technology (well I could, but the audience would all have to learn sign language!). Funnily enough, I wasn’t always a big fan of using communication devices. My speech therapist at school almost had to force me to use the first one that I had. I just didn’t see the point of it…..and it was massive. It was only when I started to have a social life outside of school that I began to see the benefits. When you consider how much I use them now, it seems strange that I was so against using them as a child. I guess I just needed to see the bigger picture and grow up a bit.
I’m incredibly grateful for the technology that I own now (and for my twisted sense of humour). It really has changed my life in so many ways. It’s allowed me to go to university and live independently, it’s allowed me to meet some amazing friends, and it’s allowed me to swear at random people on stage. When my friend suggested that I try to do stand-up comedy, I thought he was mental. I just didn’t see how it would work. It turns out he was right though. I just didn’t realise it until I gave it a try.