I did a gig last night that really pissed me off. It should have been a lovely gig as it was the opening of the Unity festival, a celebration of diversity, with a large proportion of the performers being people with disabilities, learning disabilities and the like.
I was MCing but also had a slot of about 20 minutes to fill, so I started doing some old standards, including my stuff about me being an epileptic. I checked before hand if they wanted me to use that stuff and they told me that it should go down well.
So I started into it and it went well. Apart from one woman. She stood up while I was mid sentence and said
"I think it’s disgusting. You taking the mickey out of epileptics. DI-sgusting"
I tried to explain that I wasn’t, and that if she listened to the carefully crafted words coming out of my mouth instead of just what she wanted to hear, she might notice that I was actually on the side of epileptics, gently mocking societies attitude to disability. But no.
"My son’s got epilepsy."
"So have I." I said "You may have noticed that by the fact that I said ‘I’m an epileptic’"
"Yes but my son’s got epilepsy and I think it’s disgusting"
It was too late, she was stuck in Outraged mode and walked off, dragging her husband but leaving her (epileptic) son there.
It shouldn’t have, but it really got to me. I have performed in front of hundreds of people, including the 25th anniversary gig of Epilepsy action, and I have never offended an epileptic. Only their parents or people who know an epileptic and feel they must protect these delicate souls from nasty men like me. Men who might talk about things in public, men who might bring epilepsy to the attention of the masses instead of hiding it away and only talking about in hushed tones.
I know I was in the right but I’m still angry about this. I was so tempted to unleash a barrage of spite on that woman but I restrained myself.
But I will say this.
You think you are helping epileptics, well you are not. You are the sort of person that hinders any progress, that keeps everyone in the dark ages. To understand something you must discuss it, openly. And one of the best places for that is in forums such as the stage, in comedy, drama, art etc.
So Fuck you, madam. Fuck you and your over protective ways. I’m a Pavement Raver and proud.