Vlogger Virginia Bailey reviews the latest stand-up show from comedian David Baddiel which finds humour in his family, including his father who is living with frontotemporal dementia
I remember growing up and my sister had a poster of The Mary Whitehouse Experience on her bedroom wall, which included an image of David Baddiel. At the time I had no idea who he was and if I am being totally honest I just new him as the chap that wrote the brilliant ‘Three Lions’ football anthem. I didn’t realise he was a very funny stand-up comedian!
‘My Family: Not the Sitcom’ is a brilliantly honest show, sharing stories and memories from his childhood, which focused heavily on his mother who died suddenly and his father who has more recently been diagnosed with Picks Disease (frontotemporal dementia). If you enjoy sincere ‘close to the line’ comedy then you will love this.
Throughout the show, Baddiel talks very truthfully and openly about his mother’s long term love affair, her sex life (not with her husband, but with her lover) and her love for golf memorabilia, purely bought on by her love affair with a golf enthusiast. The use of family photos and video clips bring his stories to life, with perfect comedy timing and unsurprisingly leading to an audience rolling around in laughter and shock!
With much of the first half focusing on his mother, throughout the second half of the show he turns his focus to his dad and his life with dementia. “Humour is the way to fight dementia”, a statement which resonates throughout all his references to his dad. When discussing the signs and symptoms of Pick’s disease, which include “vulgar language, tactlessness and breaches of etiquette” Baddiel’s response to the doctor was “are you sure he has a disease, or have you just met him?”
Baddiel is not only very open about his life, but open about how he believes that we should be honest and true when we remember and talk about loved ones that have passed and loved ones that we are losing to dementia. His approach not only felt liberating, but it also allowed you to laugh out loud at situations that you would probably otherwise feel terrible laughing about. His way of bringing humour into a scenario which otherwise is often fairly miserable and depressing to think about, is very refreshing.
I left the show after shedding a lot of tears of laughter (and few of sadness), wishing that I had had the pleasure of meeting Baddiel’s mother, but also feeling reassured that is OK to laugh about some of the ridiculous things that can happen when you have a loved one with dementia.
My Family: Not the Sitcom will be transferring to the Vaudeville Theatre in London’s West End from 12 September to 15 October. Click here for more details.
– Virginia is a video blogger and helps care for her father, who has dementia, along with her mum and sister Francesca. You can watch Virginia’s vlogs here. You can read the story of her Dad’s dementia here.