INTERVIEW: John Scott | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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“It’s not only the mad who suffer from delusions.” Don’t expect John Scott’s latest show to appeal only to the mad, whoever they may be. John assures me there’s something for everyone. “As well as the mental health stuff, there’s still my usual ferocious attacks on the established way of things. It wouldn’t really be a John Scott show if I didn’t do that.”

John Scott became a comedian after attending a short comedy workshop with The Stand Comedy Club in Edinburgh in 1999. He describes himself as “a bit like a Bowie of the stand-up world.”

“I started out as a camp comedian, changed to a very Scots Nationalist comedian, moved on to full time corporate comedian, switched from that to anti-establishment voice of dissent and am now the brutally honest mental health comedian.”

His new show Delusions deals with John’s misdiagnosis of schizophrenia at 24 and correct diagnosis of bipolar disorder at 32, and what happened in the intervening years. The issue of mental health is not standard comedy material; people don’t joke about these things because, let’s face it, most people don’t feel comfortable even talking about these things. Maybe only those who’ve experienced long term mental health conditions have earned the right to joke about it, and according to John Scott you’ll find depression and anxiety among the comedy community, but no more than you would find it in everyday society.

“It’s not only the mad who suffer from delusions.”

“Cases like Spike Milligan and Stephen Fry are well documented, but it’s a big misconception. I know over two hundred live comedy comedians and apart from one other, I’m the only one with long term mental health conditions.”

For the last nine years since responding well to a treatment for his condition, John’s found a way to live a normal life – although he’s quick to point out that there’s no such thing as a normal life! – where normal is feeling relaxed and focused, not staying awake for days on end, being able to switch off his thought process. Normal is not feeling suicidal and not having delusions that he’s caught up in a massive conspiracy.

So why did John decide to build his new semi-autobiographical show around his own personal story? Two years ago, at a night John was invited to do with some other comics about mental health, he was profoundly moved when a dentist who’d just been diagnosed with schizophrenia described the real impact John’s set had had on him. Fresh from a sold out run at the Edinburgh Festival, John’s still receiving positive feedback from other service users and mental health professionals.

Having lived in the Newcastle for the past 14 years, John’s excited to be performing three shows at Alphabetti Theatre from Wednesday 21st to Friday 23rd March.

“I love the type of crowd who attend Alphabetti. They’re a bunch of fringe arty types and that’s perfect for what I do. I’m hoping my ‘home’ crowd will respond to the show as well as people from all over the place have.”

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