November 01, 2023Features

Writing brain tumour humour: the intriguing holes in An Almighty Yes.

I have just this minute cut the entire Jesus section from my show, which has created an almighty hole. Goodbye Jesus. Hello hole. 

An Almighty Yes is a new work based on my chronic brain tumour that was diagnosed in 2016 and has since led me to have utterly remarkable experiences. I wanted to create a show that is inclusive and joyous, while not shying away from the realities of life and death. Comedy with pathos, about my time spent with cancer schmancer. 

It’s been slow going. The tumour was nestled in the vitally important communication and recall bit of my brain so it whirrs slightly slower and with even less coherence. Happily it’s still full of sparkle and I have an extraordinary collaborator in Jason Smith who is writing songs for the show and pointing out what’s good (and when Jesus has to go). 

Using music and a roll call of personas who each highlight a different facet of cancer I hope that An Almighty Yes demonstrates the power of our minds in creating optimism and positivity in the face of severe negativity and fierce pressure. 

As someone who has faced chronic illness head on, I know that positive thinking is a powerful tool and comedy is a remedy for both mental and physical illness. Disease is everywhere, affecting nearly every household, yet is so often treated like something that should be handled in private. This is bonkers. 

Plus, we are still coming out of a pandemic where mental health concern is prevalent, particularly with rangatahi experiencing ongoing depression and anxiety. So I am making this show as a cloudburst of fresh air, music and enlightenment for all people dealing with challenges. 

I am a tad worried that my reputation as a comedian will lead to people thinking this is an hour of all laughs and no pain. An Almighty Yes is inclusive and joyous, but it doesn’t shy away from the realities of life and death. It gets bittersweet.