Stage

Medicine and Comedy Make a Perfect Combination: An Interview with Ed Patrick

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Steve Ullathorn

Ed Patrick is a very busy man; he’s currently wrapping up the final performances of his first stand up show whilst simultaneously preparing for an exciting new show that’s coming to the Old Fire Station for previews before its run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. I should also mention that he’s a working junior doctor who’s still taking on shifts in hospitals. With all this going on I’m surprised that Ed had any time to meet me at all, although I’m very glad that he did and I got the opportunity to hear a little bit more about his work.

We began by talking about Ed’s first stand up show; it’s essentially a show about being a junior doctor, in which Ed discusses his personal experiences of the transition into the world of medicine and how this has affected his life. “You go from being a medical student into being a doctor and that contrast between being the guy at university who’s sitting around on wards thinking about when it’ll be time to go home to suddenly being that person who’s responsible; it’s quite a sharp threshold to cross and that shocks a lot of people”. Personal experience plays a large part in the show, as with a lot of comedy “things are based on the truth.” It sounds like the show could also provide a fascinating insight into what it’s like to be a doctor, Ed focuses on bringing out the human side of those in the medical profession: “we’re given this view of doctors that they’re all ‘demi-gods’ they’re expected to know everything and do everything and actually people can forget we’re human beings and that in medicine we’re dealing with a lot of uncertainty.”

It sounds like the show could also provide a fascinating insight into what it’s like to be a doctor

Naturally the NHS comes up in our discussion and although Ed tells me he was conscious not to over politicise his show I can see that this is something he is deeply passionate about: he says “I don’t know another country where the doctors and nurses are standing up and shouting about keeping health care free for the people who need it”. The state of the NHS does come into Ed’s show, “My dad said to me he thought I mentioned Jeremy Hunt too much in my show but I didn’t think that was possible.” And yet, the show avoids being preachy, with the main focus still being the process of becoming a doctor and how this has affected Ed’s personal life.

One of the things which makes Ed so interesting is his enthusiasm for what he does, when I ask him which of his professions he prefers, he thinks for a while before telling me: “I don’t think I could live without either, I love medicine and I love comedy as well, the contrast between the two is quite satisfying”. I think it’s this passion which makes Ed’s show seem like something special. I would recommend checking out the one off performance of his stand up which will be coming to the Old Fire Station May 5th.

Stand up aside, Ed is also working on a new show at the moment, which he seems excited to tell me about; he has a residency at The Old Fire Station for this and so will be putting on fortnightly performances of this intriguing show from the 6th of May right up until the Fringe festival in August. The show has a completely different format in which Ed interviews various comedians about their health experiences in a warm, safe environment. It is with some pride that Ed tells me that the previews have so far been “interesting, insightful and funny.” One of the reasons this show will be so exciting is that every show will be different, with different comedians discussing the topics that they want to talk about. The show is unscripted and Ed describes it as “unpredictable” but it is clear that this is a challenge the comedian is eager to take on.

It is with some pride that Ed tells me that the previews have so far been “interesting, insightful and funny.”

Ed also notes how the show could even have an educational aspect. He recalls one of the first performances of the show, when one comedian decided she wanted to talk about her experience of getting the coil fitted. Ed noticed that, whilst she was talking, many of the male audience members looked rather perplexed, so Ed stopped the show to explain that this was a form of female contraception. This is fairly common procedure but at the same time a lot of people don’t know anything about it. I get a sense that this show is hoping to have a wider impact; Ed explains “in health there are a lot of things that it’s good to talk about and for people to feel comfortable talking about.” He mentions that as a doctor you rely on people being able to talk about things and so it is important people feel comfortable discussing medical issues. It seems as if this show could do something quite substantial to encourage such discussion. Ed tells me he likes to explain things in a way so that people can understand them and without using too many technicalities; with this show “you go away thinking you’ve learnt something.”

Ed’s next venture looks like a show that will not only be comic but also enlightening, with the stories the comedians produce being as of much interest as the comedy itself. With tickets at only £5 this is something to check out if you find yourself looking for some Saturday evening entertainment in the coming months in Oxford.

Tickets for both of Ed’s shows are available on The Old Fires Station Website.

The stand up show Ed Patrick: Junior Optimist is on Friday May the 5th at 8pm.

Ed’s new show starts on Saturday May the 6th at 5pm and will be on every fortnight until August. 

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