Magazine Q&A : Patrick Spicer
Patrick Spicer is bringing his debut hour to Edinburgh. Who’s This All Of A Sudden? is an endearing, self-deprecating show and a personal and honest exploration of the absurd ways Patrick’s mental and physical health issues manifest; and finding ways to make peace with those while trying to live up to unachievable ideals of masculinity. Linking feelings that almost everyone feels at least occasionally, to experiences almost no one else has had. It’s silly and irreverent, laughing at the ridiculous because it’s funny to talk about bleak things while grinning.
You may have seen Patrick on The Mash Report (BBC 2), in sketches he’s written and starred in for BBC 3, Channel 4, The Hook and Pulped.
We asked Patrick about his debut and the very brave subject he chose for his first show.
Do you think masculinity needs to be redefined?
I think any sort of definition is probably going to be unhelpful. All of the “this is what a real man is” things always seem weird and counterproductive and like what that particular bloke wants people to want men to be, because that’s what they’re like. REAL men are semi-professional jugglers! REAL men eat coconut eclairs! REAL men are my Dad and are proud of me and my juggling career!
Could a person calling themselves “super normal” actually imply a glorification of normality and potentially an admission that normality as such doesn’t really exist?
Hmmm I think I see what you’re getting at here.. You think I’m super normal?!?! Yes I think “normal” is another unhelpful definition. It’s a completely relative term which can feel absolute, but it isn’t. I’m constantly defining normal so that I can hate myself for increasingly specific things. UGH I dropped my pencil…I WILL NEVER BE NORMAL LIKE PEOPLE WHO DIDN’T DROP THEIR PENCIL JUST THEN!
As someone with significant anxiety, what first made you want to stand up and tell jokes in front of a roomful of strangers – was it terrifying at first? Is it still now?
I’d always loved being an idiot, but yes the idea of doing that for audiences seemed completely terrifying. Then I had a sort of nervous breakdown and somehow the idea of not trying it seemed much less scary than continuing to pretend to be a project manager while drinking myself into an early grave. It was terrifying but I loved it. I do sometimes still get nervous before going on stage. Especially when I think about all those projects I left behind...
Would you say most men spend a lot of energy trying to hide their true nature from their peers?
I think it’s hard to say. Some men maybe fit into our societal archetypes more comfortably and so don’t have to hide as much, or at all, or are so comfortable they can move the goalposts of the archetypes themselves and get everyone wearing deep V neck t-shirts. People more like me don’t fit, or maybe more accurately don’t feel like we fit, so we try and hide anything that (we hysterically fear) could reveal us to be abnormal or inadequate like wearing the wrong t-shirt.
Could it be that listening to a naturally worried person may help others in dealing with worries of their own?
I hope so. Part of the point of my show is to show how stupid all my worries are. Whenever I’ve ever heard someone talk about their worries and they’re the same as mine, I’ve always felt less alone. I think that’s universal too, because it plays on the “wanting to be in a group” thing, and it’s much easier to feel you belong to a group that’s founded on feeling like a fraud.
Do you find it essential to your wellbeing to find the power to grin about bleak things?
I constantly go back and forth on what is “essential” to my wellbeing. Running! Journalling! Therapy! Cold showers! Certainty! I think laughing is definitely better than panicking, and the more you can do that the better. But if I go around telling other depressed or anxious people to try laughing, I get asked to leave libraries. So, on those occasions I go swimming or line-dancing or whatever.
Patrick Spicer: Who’s This All Of A Sudden?, Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose (Coorie), 6.20pm, 3-28 August (not 16)