Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have considered epilepsy within a comedy set, however, Maisie Adam somehow had me laughing at impressions of absence seizures. Whilst I’m sure that sounds rather sadistic, and I would have been appalled reading that sentence from anyone else prior, Adam manages to evoke laughter and a sense of relatability from the most unlikely of places.
Having made quite the impact in Edinburgh, and taking home the 2018 Best Newcomer award, Adam decided to use 2019 to bring her show to London. A wise decision. As a relatively new comedian on the London scene, she introduced her set by introducing herself with three key themes; Height, the North, and Epilepsy.
Charmingly addressed, the first two themes opened the show with a gently humorous tone. Being a 5 ft. 10 woman, I have also heard the phrase ‘Oh, you could be a model’. Unless the fashion industry suddenly find investment in the ability to produce a seventh chin, I tend to respond similarly to Adam, in utter bemusement. This sense of relatability remained consistent throughout the set, evoking familiarity from each of her anecdotes.
Adam continued by bringing light to the North/South divide through exploration of how they respond to the question, “How are you?”. As explained, this often sparks opportunity amongst Southerners to share their inner autobiography in great depth…alongside a biography of all their family members… and their partners. On the other hand, Northerners settle for a simple, one-word answer, which somehow manages to summarise precisely; how they are feeling at that exact moment, how they have always felt, and how they will feel in the future; “Alright”. It’s this ability to elicit humour through observation that made Adam shine with potential. Also, massive props to the comparison of Dream Matte Mousse sharing the consistency of Tiramisu. So niche, yet so accurate.
Whilst the light-hearted and reminiscent nature of the set made it greatly enjoyable to watch, the narrative truly developed when Adam injected a sense of realism by sharing her experiences of being diagnosed with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy. As this diagnosis coincided with puberty, this allowed Adam to combine relatability in her typical teenage stories, with an element of novelty in the form of her epilepsy. The best example of this had to be Karen; her GCSE invigilator who watched her for the duration of every exam, and slapped the table if she thought Adam was having an absence seizure. Utterly hilarious.
Alongside comedians like Rosie Jones and Jess Thom, it was refreshing to hear another woman addressing the comedic side to their disability. Not only was this educational, but it also made for fantastically unique material too. Whether or not Adam decides to mention epilepsy in her future shows will not be the deciding factor of her comedy fate. More-so her likeable character, engrossing anecdotes, and observational wit. Oh, and Karen. Karen’s a legend.