Adam Kay prescribes Norwich songs from secret diary of a junior doctor
PUBLISHED: 15:01 22 February 2018 | UPDATED: 09:36 23 February 2018
Adam Kay used white coat but now he displays his funny bones as an award-winning comedian. His latest show, adapted from his bestselling book, is based on his diaries from his time as an overworked junior doctor.
Whether black humour to deal with life and death issues, or bedside good humour, a surprising number of comedians used to be doctors.
Adam Kay started out life as a doctor but after a brief medical career, he swapped his stethoscope for a microphone. He was one half of the popular musical parody group The Amateur Transplants, with fellow medic Dr Suman Biswas.
Together, the pair performed their crude medical parodies of pop songs for several years, producing four number one albums in the iTunes comedy charts, having several successful shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and being named winners of the 2014 London Cabaret Awards.
Subsequently his cutting-edge, darkly humorous re-imaginings of pop and rock classics have gained him a cult following, with over 20 million hits on YouTube. Unlike much of musical comedy, he is actually funny, which helps.
He has previous visited the region with Adam Kay’s Smutty Christmas Songs, a night of festive filth that offered an antidote to pantomime horror, and The Remains of Tom Lehrer, his tribute to the mild-mannered, slightly dusty, Harvard maths professor whose satirical songs were popular in the 1950s and 60s.
His latest visit however sees him return to a medical them. This Is Going To Hurt (Secret Diaries Of A Jnr Doctor) follows on from his first-hand account of life as a junior doctor which was published last year.
Adam was a junior doctor from 2004 until 2010, before a devastating experience on a ward caused him to reconsider his future. He kept a diary throughout his training, and This Is Going To Hurt intersperses tales from the front line of the NHS with reflections on the current crisis.
Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, it provides a no-holds-barred account. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking by turns, it has everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on the hospital ward. The show expands on the themes with added stand-up and a healthy dose of music on prescription.
He said: “This is the honest version of what’s its like to be a junior doctor. A lot of the time it’s sad, but a lot of the time it is funny. You have to look for the glimmers of light amongst the dark. There is a lot of high octane stuff, I worked on labour wards, but there is a lot of petty bureaucracy as well because it’s the NHS.”
His move into performing and comedy at first avoided his former career, before realising it was a source of material and a platform a highlight the pressures faced by the NHS. “I wasn’t going for the medical niche,” he has explained. “And then I realised that it was something I could draw on. And yes, what is happening to the NHS at the moment did play a part.
“There’s a long tradition of Christmas revues at medical schools – students getting up on stage and performing lowest-common-denominator sketches and songs – and it was something I did a fair bit of. When I left medicine and was desperately reaching around for a rip-cord, it was the closest to a Plan B I could come up with.”
• Adam Kay: This Is Going To Hurt (Secret Diaries Of A Jnr Doctor) is at Norwich Playhouse on February 24, 7.30pm, returns only. He will be back at the same venue on November 4, 7.30pm, £16 (£14 cons), 01603 598598, norwichplayhouse.co.uk
• This is Going to Hurt is published by Picador
PROSCRIBING LAUGHTER – DOCTORS WHO BECAME COMICS
Jonathan Miller — Was training in medicine, specialising in neurology, before joining the comedy revue Beyond the Fringe with Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett.
Graham Chapman — Studied at St Bartholomew’s Medical College, but turned down a career as a doctor to be a member of Monty Python.
Graeme Garden — Studied medicine at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, before the 1964 Footlights revue, The Goodies and Radio 4 shows like I’ll Sorry I’ll Read That Again.
Harry Hill — Worked as a house officer at Doncaster Royal Infirmary, before quitting the medical profession because he “didn’t feel in control of what was happening”.
Paul Sinha — While at medical school developed a taste for comedy as co-editor of the medical school newsletter, then later stand-up. Now can also be seen on quiz show The Chase.
Phil Hammond — Doctor, comedian and commentator on health issues who has published books including Trust Me, I’m a Doctor.