Purple Day bonuscast: Maisie Adam
12:19PM Mar 24, 2021
Intro - Hattie
Welcome to epilepsycast - the podcast about all things epilepsy, from Epilepsy Action.
Hey Hattie, it's been a minute, six whole months. Apparently, apparently our last podcast was in September. So it's been a long time.
Blimey - six months ago. And we're back with a special bonus episode for Purple Day, which is hopefully maybe even the day that you're listening on?
It will be I think, it will be yeah. So we're doing a little chat with Maisie Adam, who is a comedian. She's been on a lot of shows you might have seen her on such as Mock The Week, The Ranganation show, a lot of other panel shows, and she has her own stand-up special as well, which is on Amazon, I believe. called Vague. And me and you watched it, Hattie, what did you think about it?
I thought it was awesome. And it's all about her, her growing up and kind of coming of age, but she was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 14. So all about kind of how all of that played against each other and played off each other. And it's... I thought it was genuinely hilariously funny.
Yeah, it's really good and the audience loved it that were in the show. And it's kind of all like, from her perspective, how she sees her epilepsy, how she coped with it growing up, and all that kind of good stuff. So we'll go into that interview now. And take it away us two!
Now, I know this is a question you've probably had a lot of the kind of last year, but we're gonna ask it anyway because I mean, I think it's, you know, it's become standard now. But how is like, you know, COVID, and the year and all that kind of being, because it seems from like my perspective, like, because I watched Mock The Week and stuff like that, that you've had, like, a really like GOOD past year, almost in a weird way, because you've been, you know, on Mock The Week, Ranganation show, all that. And it kind of seems like your career is, like, way on the up.
I mean, I mean, I don't know if that's, I don't know what that says about me. The year that my career seems to strive in is the year that everybody else is having an absolute crisis. Like yeah, I mean, I can't... the pandemic's been obviously like really tough for everyone. And lockdown has been horrendous. But I seem to have been really, really lucky with what work I've been able to do. And, yeah, the fact that I've been able to strive career-wise in a pandemic, I don't want really that to be my niche thing you know?
Hopefully when live crowds come back, they will show up?
Yeah, oh yeah, Maisie - she's only really good when there's a mass pandemic. But yeah, you're right. I've been very lucky. And I've had I've had some lovely opportunities to work through lockdown. I mean, it's been...you've mentioned like the telly stuff - that's been great. And then there's been online gigs, which are varied! Much like what we were talking about with the podcasts, there's some that go great and there's some that go horribly wrong.
Yeah, but such as life.
Yeah, of course, and what is it like to gig without an audience sat there in front of you?
It's really weird, but genuinely like all the online gigs have varied and how they are as a format. So like, you'll do some where there's 50 faces on a Zoom call and it's great because you can actually see... if anything, you've got more to go off in terms of like crowd work. If you're gigging normally you'll go 'oh what's your name?' and you go 'Hattie' and I say 'ok, right, tell me something about yourself'. Whereas with this, you can literally go in about their living rooms, like about their full name is usually in the box, so there's so much more to go off with. Which makes the other online gigs, the ones where they're like, 'ok, just perform your comedy into the webcam pose', and you can't see anybody. It's horrible. It's like doing your stand-up routine in the mirror, which is something I think you only do if you're having a breakdown. Those ones have been pretty...
Really, really nervous and...
Yeah, yeah, those ones have been rough.
Yeah, that sounds really, really rough!
Yeah, well, we were talking about before we started, that we both applied to be on one of these like Zoom kind of live shows....
Yeah, yeah. I think Hattie was saying Radio 4?
The audiences and stuff. Just take the opportunity because yeah, that doesn't come up very often.
It's been really enjoyable as well. Like the acts' perspective, when we've been doing TV stuff and you chat to the Zoom audience, it's been kind of that because I think a lot of people don't realise that when you record stuff like Mock The Week at a studio, it's about three hours. So when you've got them in the room, like as in outside of COVID times, that's 300 people who have come thinking it's gonna be just like it is on the telly.
But then you're told you cannot move. You can't take photos. You can't go to the loo. You have to wait till it's done. And actually with Zoom, you still have all of the people who are big fans of the shows and stuff and are giving lots of applause and everything, but they can have a wine from the fridge. Do you know what I mean? Yeah, it's quite nice really.
I applied to be, very different, I applied to be on WWE Wrestling there to go through this like massive arena where they got like, Zoom.
All the way round. I haven't got my application yet. But I'm hoping you know, front row, just from....
That's what I mean, how big is it going to get? Like they're doing it for TV records. And then like I saw, they did it for like, Britain's Got Talent, like a huge audience. And I think they've done it for a few award shows. I'm genuinely like, what imagine if like, the Olympics is just loads and loads of it was just blasting off Black Mirror, wouldn't it really well?
Yeah it really would. Yeah, it's gonna be, it's just all been so interesting.
Yeah, it's been a weird one.
Maisie, we're obviously... this is epilepsycast and we are here to talk about all sorts of things. But one of the things we're here to talk about is your epilepsy. And Purple Day is obviously the day of international kind of conversation about epilepsy. And one of the things that you're really open about is your epilepsy. I justwondered, one of the things we're thinking about for Purple Day this year is about like misconceptions about epilepsy or myths.
And I wondered like, what you've kind of come across, or if there's anything that like... what annoys you most basically, that people think about epilepsy, that just isn't true for you.
Yeah. I mean, I think straightaway the first one, and I'm sure you've had this a lot, but it's that everybody assumes it's flashing lights and it's photosensitive. And so, especially, I guess, from my perspective, with my line of work, where you have to sort of sign health declaration forms before recording anything - you say, 'yes, I'm epileptic' and straightaway the lighting designer comes over and he's like 'are you going to be alright with these lights, these studio lights? I will turn them on, but I'll tell you before I turn them on and stuff. It's absolutely...it's not at all to do with that. It never has been for me.
So that's been like a huge...definitely, definitely even before like I went into comedy that was the the thing I found answering the most about, when when saying that I was epileptic, was people worried about flashing lights, people naturally assuming that's what we had to stay clear of. You know, my mates looking out for me, going 'ah right ok'. I remember like going to the cinema and there was an advert where there was like somebody on the red carpet with all these flashing cameras and my mate being like: 'is Maisie ok?'. And I was like, yes, I'm fine!
Absolutely, a-ok, actally thanks!
So I guess that is the one that jumps out to me straightaway. I think as well, more recently, I'm very lucky with my epilepsy in that it is...I'm seizure free 18-months at the moment and it's been fairly easy to control that. And I'm very aware that I'm very lucky with mine, and I know exactly now, what it is that can can trigger it, and what can what I can do to help manage it most effectively. But I think one of the biggest misconceptions for people, and this absolutely is the case for some people, but I get it a lot that people think it's it's totally uncontrollable, and can strike at any minute. And almost like it's a sneeze, like it creeps - do you know what I mean? Like it creeps up on you.
And so I find myself often having to say I'm epileptic, but don't worry, it's completely fine. You won't notice it. It's completely controlled by self-administered medication. I've got it, and of course I get that that I have, you know, people need to know what the thing is. But I think, because of what we see and hear about epilepsy, a lot of people immediately think foaming at the mouth, dropping to the floor with no warning. And that can happen any minute from the moment I've told you I'm epileptic. And actually, I think it's such a varied thing. There's so many different types and then even then, within the categories, everybody's got a different relationship with it. So I think the frustration is, but at the same time, it's a mild frustration because I understand where people's misconceptions come from that when you're told somebody is epileptic, wait, and let them tell you exactly what their type is, what their, you know, what their state is with it. Because it will be completely different. I could meet somebody who's got the exact same type of epilepsy, but they could be somebody who could just drop any minute and you know, it's so different.
So I think just maybe, like, the whole, hold back on any assumptions until the facts have been given to you. My favourite one I do think, though is somebody asked if I had an EpiPen! And I was like, I think that's for nut allergies!
I've heard of someone who was having a seizure, and the first aider shouted 'find an EpiPen!' EpiPen, epilepsy, they're not the same!
I can't remember what it was. I think it might have been a trip at university. We were going I think, to like a show, or something. And somebody was like, like the head of course, was like 'Maisie, have you got your EpiPen? and I was like, 'I don't have a peanut allergy'! You might as well as if I'd packed my wellies!
It's completely irrelevant to me. Important for some, not for others. Yeah you're right, epilepsy is just one of those things that affects everybody so differently, isn't it? So, yeah for some people, yeah, like it's, you know, 100 seizures a day-type situation. And for some people, it's controlled. And so yeah, you've got to listen to people and what they're telling you.
It is such, such a varied condition. And like, it's, just the TV representation of, you know, tonic-clonics and flashing lights and that's just what everyone assumes it is, but it's so much more than that. And it's so awesome that you pointed that out. I want to talk about a little bit, like how that first kind of diagnosis and then first seizures, you know, how they started because me and Hattie kind of watched your show Vague and you talk about how you were diagnosed at 14 with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME). A big grime artist as well. And you mentioned Boy Better Know in Vague.
I know, right?
And it's funny you mentioned that because they did a charity auction for us last year. did Boy Better Know, yeah the entire crew.
Really?! Oh that's wicked.
At Wembley Boxpark, so yeah, I found that really funny. But um, yeah, just talk about a little bit about that kind of first diagnosis and how you've kind of feeling.
Yeah, so, um, yeah, so I was, like, maybe think around when I was like, 13, 12/13, my mum and dad noticed that I was sort of rolling my eyes back and kind of 'being vacant' is what they described as. And I never clocked it, never knew that it had had like, before or afterwards, nothing beforehand, that would make me think this is gonna happen.
It can be, it's funny you say that, because we hear so many times that like, people have their stories saying that, you know, in school, they were kind of staring and teachers just thought they weren't paying attention.
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And I only knew that it had happened because my mum and dad would just be looking at me and going, 'Have you clocked that? Did that go in?' And I was like, 'did what go in, sorry?' And I think as well like for a while there was probably a bit of an assumption that I was, like I joke in my routine that people thought I was rude because I was eye-rolling, but I think there was a genuine assumption that I was maybe daydreaming or just sort of zoning out of a conversation. And we went to go and get like a diagnosis you know, and they did the whole thing of sticking all the...like Eleven out of Stranger Things just stuck all over my head. And I mean, even we when when we were told it's a type of epilepsy, I actually don't think they used the juvenile myoclonic epilepsy at that point. They just said it was childhood absence seizures - that was all we were told at that at that time. I don't think they call it 'petit mal' anymore do they, but it was, that was what they were, petit mal seizures was what they were saying and that's... even going back to those misconceptions,. I remember when they said epilepsy, I was like, no, that's not what this is. I'm just clearly going a bit vacant for a bit. And so, I don't really remember it being particularly a huge thing, because it was never a huge thing to me.. I was zoning out for a couple of seconds here and there so I really didn't clock that it was that. I was like, yeah I guess on paper I'm epileptic but I don't feel I've something that I need to manage. I don't feel any particular side effects or..
And that's another example of it being so buried, isn't it?
Yeah, yeah. And I think as well, so I had a condition from birth, which has meant that I've always had two tablets in the morning, two tablets at night, I've always had it. So when this was diagnosed, it was like, oh now you just have this tablet, it was Epilim. Like, you just add that on top. So even in terms of a routine of getting into things, I've taken tablets, it wasn't, it just wasn't a huge step for me. So I think for a lot of people on their journey with epilepsy, the diagnosis is a big thing. It really wasn't that, it was just like, oh right, I guess I've got it. Like, when people discovered they've got an allergy, they're like, 'oh I've got that, I need to remember for the next time', do you know what I mean? So it was like that for a while. And then as I went through my teens, it was all fine, absolutely manageable. And then got to like, and you'll have seen this if you've watched Vague, but got to sort of those, like mid to late teen years where you know, you're going out at night with your mates and you're drinking for the first time. And I did clock that in the mornings I'd be a little bit more vague and a little bit more slow. And I started noticing that, like my my arms would jerk, and it was always in the morning. And so it was things like I'd be getting ready for school, and like doing up my school buttons and then I'd hit myself in the face and I was like, you know, I didn't really connect the dots. I just thought, you know, that's weird. And it was usually if I'd been late to bed, not slept very well, forgotten to have my tablet the night before, anything like that.
But I'd have my tablet that morning. And it'd be, I'd be right by 10am. By the time I was at school, it was fine. And then one summer, me and my friends, we went to V-Festival. And we were driving down - again, I talked about this in Vague so sorry if you've heard all this before - we were driving down and it was just like a typical thing of when you're excited to go to something like that with your mates. Yeah, the last thing on your mind is remembering to take your meds. So as much as I'm sat here going, 'oh it was just routine. I've always take meds', that the night before I was staying at my mates. And I think we were just so excited about what we doing, and I forgot to take my medication. The next morning, we were up early to get in the car. And I hadn't taken my tablet that morning. So I'd missed two rounds, right. And then I was in the car and I was feeling a bit sort of like slow and vacant, but nothing, nothing that I hadn't had on a school morning before. And it would have been about three hours into the journey, so about half ten, 11 o'clock in the morning. And I was in the passenger seat and we were stuck in traffic. My mate said, because I was eating a muffin at the time, and my mate said that, like, I just jerked, the muffin went on the floor and I didn't...if somebody dropped something on the floor in a car, you quickly try and pick it up, you know, five-second rule or you chuck it out the window! And it jerked out my hand and I just sort of let it roll. And they looked at me and they said that my head had gone back. My arms had locked up and crossed over. And I was very clearly like not, not right. They just said I was rocking a little bit. And so they were they were already stationary because we were stuck in traffic and my mate rang an ambulance and I think in the meantime, I tried to find somebody who could help. I have no recollection of this. But when I woke up, we were at the, like, hard shoulder. And an ambulance had managed to weave through and I was in the ambulance when I when came to, and I remember them saying like, you know what, asking me the questions and being really confused and I couldn't answer them very well. And I said I'm epileptic but even then I think I was like 'I'm epileptic, but like not really' and they were like 'well, no, you've had a seizure'. And I was like 'what do you mean, I don't have seizures. I just go blank every now and then but I don't have this' and my tongue was all swollen and they were like, you've bitten your tongue, you've had a tonic-clonic seizure. And I'll be honest, I was terrified l be honest, I was terrified. I was terrified because it had never happened before and when I think when you've lived with something for several years, as you know, this wasn't happening a couple of weeks into being diagnosed. I'd lived with it thinking it's this one thing for a while.
And then it presented itself it sort of went up a tier, you know? And so I was really quite taken aback and I was like, oh, this is quite big, actually. And it was the first time I'd really realised that there was a repercussion for me not taking my meds.
Whereas before, I'd be like, I didn't take my tablets last night, I felt a bit funny this morning, but it's fine. Yeah, I guess like, I literally thought of it as like, oh, if you've got hayfever and you don't take your hayfever tablets, you might feel...
You might sneeze a bit more!
Yeah, but you're not like, at death's door so I never really worried about it. And the main thing I took away from it was because my parents were on holiday as well. And then the the ambulance were going, you know, because you're under 18, yeah, is there anyone we can ring to let them know? And I was so determined not for my mum and dad to know. And I was like, no, no, absolutely not. I don't want them to know. And also I was looking at my mates who were in the car, and they looked so worried and so concerned, and it was that feeling as well of being... not a burden, because they were so great about it, but it was that that made me realise how serious it was because I realised how much I had worried them. And I sort of was like, I don't want that to happen again. I don't want to do that. And whereas before, if I missed the tablet, the 'repercussions' in quotations were a) not that big and b) only really affected me whereas this was something thatcould have, you know, really impacted the whole weekend. I mean, it didn't, I had my tablets, we went and had a Yorkshire pudding. I remember that, like I remember just being really hungry. So we went and got like a right good meal and then we had a great weekend.
Paid like 12 quid for it?!
Yeah, absolutely! Yeah, bankrupted myself on day one. But that was like the first time I clocked it. And, it was, that sort of like...a kick up the (bleep), basically, I was trying to think of a polite way to say it. But it was a kick up the (bleep) of trying to make sure that I took my tablets. and so it didn't happen again, until about a year and a half later, when pretty much the same, same situation, I'd been out with my mates on a night out, come home that night, I hadn't taken the tablet and then had to be up for work. And I think, I would have definitely taken it the next morning, but I had a seizure on the way to work. And it was like, yeah, it was a tonic-clonic one again, so... But that's something that for the first three years of being diagnosed as epileptic, a tonic-clonic seizure didn't come along till three years. Yeah, yeah.
And I think, the way you were saying there like that you know, you kind of wanted to keep your independence, I think that's like a lot, something that a lot of like newly-diagnosed people can definitely relate to. And I think particularly like younger as you were, and it's, almost like, you don't want to, yeah....
Yeah, it relates back to the, not necessarily stigma, but the perceptions of epilepsy. I think even at that time, I still had a perception because I was like, 'I'm epileptic but not really', this was kind of like holding it right up to my face, going 'no, you are'. Yeah, I realise now, I always was epileptic, but it was only when I had a tonic-clonic seizure that I sort of respected it as that. And I think I didn't want to say it because I wanted my independence. But I also didn't really want to acknowledge that I was a fully-fledged member of the epileptic society. Yeah, it was, it was just, it was something that I think I tried to suppress for a while. And wasn't 100% honest with people about and wasn't 100% honest with myself about because I saw it as a threat to all of those things - my independence, my sort of young person lifestyle that I wanted at that time, you know, so I'm now 27, I still love a night out. But because I know how to manage it. And I know what sort of, and I have to be honest with myself and others. I can still... it's not like 'oh, I had that seizure and since then I've never been allowed back in a nightclub', like I still so possible to like have the life that I was so defensive of. But at that moment, it felt very much like oh god, you know, here we go.
Yeah, it feels a threat, doesn't it?
Yeah, it did. Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
Obviously, yeah. With all of that kind of, in your mind, it's a huge thing to have to like wrestle with on your own at like, 17. Like all of this, like, threat and worry and concern but still, I think it's amazing, that you decided that like, a career standing up in front of people and being funny was the was the career for you. I wondered, kind of when that shift happened.
Yeah, so um, I guess as a youngster, I was always a drama kid, like I was definitely the annoying drama kid at school.
I just absolutely loved it. And always got the roles that were like the funny one, and I much preferred them, because you get immediate feedback, do you know what I mean? It's like, if you're playing Juliet in 'Romeo and Juliet', you don't know if you're doing a good job, because you've not got any lines where the audience are meant to immediately laugh back, like laughter is such an immediate feedback reaction. Whereas I much preferred the role... probably from an ego, like perspective of if, as I say, if you're playing Juliet and everyone claps at the end, you don't know if they're clapping for you or for the whole, like production, or if they thought the production was good, but you were naff. Whereas if you get a laugh, that's not for anyone else - that's for you. So I loved it, I think, I think I always leant more towards comedy, but I never considered it as a career. And then I went to drama school, had a really good drama teacher who told me to go to drama school rather than university because I was not interested in essays and writing and all that. So she said, you know, go to drama school, which I did. And drama school is a very weird place. It's very strange. And I think, like to be brutally honest, I think over the three years, I learned a lot. But a lot of that was learning that I liked performance but I didn't want to be an actor, I didn't want to be certainly just an actor. And I say that, as in I'm now a comedian, and I do acting. But I definitely got to the end of that and realised that acting is so dependent on so many other factors. So it's a lot of going to audition after audition after audition. And you could be perfect for it but they've just decided. So like, you could go for an audition for an advert where you're on a date with a lad and you could be perfect for this role. And you've prepped and prepped and prepped and prepped and prepped, you're exactly the type of look that they were going for. But just before you walked in, they found the lad that they really want and the lad is 5ft 10. And then you come in and you're 5ft 11, and they're just suddenly like... That's what I mean, it can be down to something just so trivial, as to the fact your hair is just a little bit too mousy, or you're a little bit too tall, or you're a little bit too Yorkshire or you're a little bit like...it could be down to so many things. And even if you get it, you get a play or whatever, you get anything you do the work and you do it well, but the director could be rubbish or the person you're starring opposite could be a nightmare to work with, and isn't pulling their weight and it's making the whole production naff or the venue could be rubbish. There's so many factors that it just relies...do you know what it is? It's a massive group project and at uni, I hated group projects, because you're there working away and then the other three don't do anything and you end up with your overall mark just being a bit naff, even though you put blood sweat and tears into it. So acting is a group project and comedy - well, you write it, you do it. If it's good you get all the praise and if it's naff, you can't blame anyone else because it's all on you, so, and I like that control element. I guess that shows from what we were just talking about with my epilepsy as a teen I like to be in control. I like to be independent, and make my own choices and comedy lets you do that comedy. It's like, as long as you've written material, you book yourself in for a comedy night. And if you're good, you'll get booked again. So, you booked off merit, you're booked off of something you've done. You're not booked off somebody saying they're good or somebody getting you in there. Like, even if you've got a mate who will get you a gig somewhere, you could turn up (bleep), she won't get booked again. So it's, it's a proper meritocracy. I love it. But I don't think I'd have realised I wanted to do comedy had I not gone and done acting, and then realised all of that. I think I find it easier as well. I find it easier to be passionate about because, god there are some rubbish plays out there. Well there are, sometimes you'd be applying for stuff and you'd be like this is awful. Like, whose story is it and I can't get passionate about it. And I'm somebody who really struggles to do something unless I'm, unless I'm passionate about it. Yeah. And so with stand-up, you pick what you talk about. You choose what it is that you want to like, literally stand on stage and say to a group of people with a microphone. It's like public speaking or debating. You're not going to get up there and do it with something you're not (bleep) about. So I quite liked that really, it's probably again a bit of an egotistical thing, but..hey ho!
I think I think stand-up's one of the hardest like jobs out there. And I like hold my hands up too because like there's that new, there's that Stand Up To Cancer thing going on where you watch celebrities.
Oh, did you watch this, Hattie? Oh my Lord. I was watching it with like a pillow over me.
Yeah, me too. Hands like peeking through my fingers.
I said though, I said to my boyfriend, because I was like, d you know what, when it was first announced a few months back, because I know a few people, the comics, who've done it, yeah as in teaching. But when it was first announced, it was like a month into COVID or whatever. And a lot of people were like, this is not cool that Channel Four have given a comedy show to celebs that aren't even comedians when the comedy circuit is on such a thing. And I was kind of like, ok, I get it. Then I watched it. I was like, actually, first of all it's for a good cause. So yeah, fine, like pick your battles. And second of all, it actually showed that our job isn't just getting up and being that mate at the pub that's got a funny story to say, because I think Jason Manford said it on the show, otherwise, everybody would be a comedian. Yeah, it's actually a proper skill. And it's so easy to go wrong. Like just because you've got a joke, or you've got a story that is funny, it's not the same as doing stand-up.
All in the delivery.
I actually really liked it because I was like, oh, it's actually proven that my job is actually really hard.
Because I think a lot of the times even my mates are like, yeah alright, we can all get on stage and tell a few knock knock jokes. It's actually really difficult, thank you!
Really really hard. Takes a lot of work and effort actually, thanks!
So, speaking of your stand-up, you make obviously epilepsy a part of ,you know, your routines and yeah. Again, going back to Vague you're obviously, making a few jokes about seizures and that kind of thing. And, you know, you tell the audience, it's ok to laugh. I think, you know, humour is such a big way of coping for a lot of people and yeah, like, for me, comedy always takes me like to a different place. It's, it's almost like a comfort and yeah, things like that. And like, kind of what made you decide to be like, 'oh, I'll put up for epilepsy as part of my routine'?
Yeah. So I think, I think with comedy, and again, they, they explored this so brilliantly well in that in that programme, that Stand Up To Cancer programme. In comedy, I think you have to be relatable. You have, like, and I think people love that. It's my favourite thing when you go to a comedy night, either as an audience member, I love watching comedians and going oh my god, that's so true. And I love it as a comedian. When you say stuff and you can see people sat there going 'oh my god, that's you Hattie'' or 'that's you Rich, you do that'. It's perfect, cos you know you've hit something there. But similarly, it has to be unique, because otherwise it's like, what's the deal with aeroplane food and it just really, really generic. So I think the idea for talking about epilepsy because as I say, I didn't talk about it much, I've not always been open about it and as a teen I was, my mates knew I was epileptic but they kind of knew like I did, like she has epilepsy but not really. So with Vague, I'd only been doing stand-up for a year when I did Vague because I won a comedy competition where the prize was to do a show at Edinburgh. And so, I very quickly had to decide what that show was going to be about. And when you've got no profile, no-one knows who you are, you're just... I think I was 23 at the time. So no profile, no TV credits, no, you know, nothing real. I've got... not even experience on my side, I've been going for less than a year. So you have to make your show, your first show kind of has to be an introduction to who you are, and letting letting the audience in and saying 'this is me'. So, again, if you've seen Vague I talk about being well, like where I'm from, a bit about, like me as a person. And then I wanted to do a show that was just about that, really. But everybody does a show. That's an introduction show for their first thing. So what is it about you that makes it different? What is it that makes you, that makes your show? What is it that your story's a little bit different than not everybody might have. And for me, it was a coming of age show. But when I was coming of age, I was going through this, I was sort of still working it out myself, I was still trying to wrestle with it still try, you know, half trying to pretend it wasn't happening, but half having to pretend having to realise that it was, managing it. And I think as well, it was also something that I wasn't exactly at the finish line of and I won't ever be, but it's still something that I'm managing. And the fact that it changed three years, you know, in its format means it could change again. So I'm never, I never fully, not to say I'm never fully relaxed, but I'm at least now, not at peace. That sounds very dramatic! I'm very fine with that being the case. So I wanted to speak about very relatable humour, which is growing up, which is going out with your mates, which is all of those experiences we've all had about school teachers about that mate in the friendship group who does XYZ and that one that does ABC. All of that, you know, people from my village, it was all relatable. But it had this perspective on it that was unique to me. And I think it was kind of, it was helpful for me, I'm from a family who were very open, I can chat to my mum and dad, I can say I chat to mum and dad, but I didn't. And I still don't know why I didn't because they're so receptive and so open. And so I could say anything, and I think they'd be ok about it, they just want to know. But I'm from a family who tend to be open with the more difficult things with humour, that's how we deal with it. And I don't say that to be like, that's how we put it off. I think that is genuinely how we deal with it. And it's, and it's been great, it's always been the best way for me, we laugh about it. Because I think if you don't laugh about it, you can get bogged down in it. That's not to say that there's not days where it's ok to get really miffed about it and peed off about and you want to scream about it. But ultimately, you have to find the light in it rather than the dark. And so that's, that is what what what helps me with this is,...I can't do a TED talk. I just can't take it seriously. And there's no way in this world that I was ever going to do a TED talk about, or heaven forbid, what would have been worse - a play? God! I can't I cannot imagine what my play would have been like if I'd have done that. So it was always going to be comedy for me because that's how I communicate really.
I think we've kind of based almost that kind of question on a recent article that came out on Mashable and it was someone with epilepsy who was kind of criticising a Netflix show that kind of made light of seizures, not in a comedic way almost like in a little bit of a cruel way. And I think there's so many perspectives on it and I think it's, it really does depend on the person like you say, you cope with humour, where someone doesn't like see epilepsy funny at all. I guess that's their perspective as well, isn't it?
Yeah, it's difficult and I think I had it with Vague. I had it. I had it with the material, I remember. And it's always going to happen because people, as we were saying at the start of this, every single person's relationship with it different.
And you can never know what somebody has gone through with their relationship to it. And that might mean that they are more sensitive or more raw, or things are more raw for them. However, I think with stand-up, you're the narrator. So you're only ever talking about your experience and your perspective. So you're not standing up there, as I say, like a TED talk and being the spokesperson for something. You're being...and it happened, I remember, like doing the material the first time, not the first time I've been, but it was before I'd done Vague, I was doing the material. And a woman came up to me in like the interval and was like 'can I just say I found that really difficult'. And I was like 'oh', and the gig had gone great. But she was like 'I found that really difficult'. So I was, right, why was that? She's like 'well my son has epilepsy and he has seizures every day, and it's really hard'. And I was like 'I don't deny that, I don't...that absolutely is the reality'. But similarly, I'm not going to not talk about what my reality is, and do it through the medium that my job is, which is comedy. So it's interesting...and she was one person and that was four, five years ago....well, what would it be? 2017. So four years ago, yeah, that would have been and in that same time, there's been hundreds and I mean, hundreds of people who saw me at Edinburgh, people who saw the Mock The Week clip or people that have like, heard other podcasts that I've done about it, and have messaged me on Instagram to say it's so nice to just hear it done in a light way, so nice to hear it being normalised. And actually people who can relate feel a bit more like represented or feel a little bit, not validated, but like oh my god, that's how I feel. And similarly, the people that don't have any connection to it, at least leave going. 'that was funny, and I learned that it's not all about flashing lights!'.
Very, very true. Very true. Educational and funny.
Yeah, exactly. We're laughing, and learning! Yeah.
That could be your tagline - laughing and learning.
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
For the next tour now. We could pretty much wrap it off really here but every guest that we have on we always ask one final question, the big grand finale and is what is 'one thing', Maisie, about epilepsy'...to someone newly-diagnosed, what would you kind of give them as advice? You know, and it's a big question!
Yeah, it is and because it's so different for every person, like, I don't know what advice they need, because everybody's different. But I'd say that certainly one thing I'd like people to know, I think for people who don't have epilepsy, one thing I'd like them to know it's so different for every single person. So even if you know the type of epilepsy that they've got,even if you go 'Oh I know it's JME so that's not about flashing lights'...it might be that my JME might be very different to Joe Public's JME. So, be open to that huge, like, variation that is out there. But I think for people with epilepsy and speaking now from experience, be honest about it, be honest about it with yourself, be honest about it with other people as well. Because it's not half the burden you think it is. And it's so much easier when it's...it is that thing of like a problem shared is a problem halved. It's so much easier when other people are in the know about it. And I know it's really easy to feel like, to say it to somebody else's to unload that burden onto somebody else, but it's absolutely not. But keeping it yourself is only ever going to be unhelpful, I would say. And I think it's important. I think it's important that you share it with other people so that you get that normalisation of conversation out there. That's the only way that that happens is through people and if we all keep it like some hidden secret, like with anything that's happened over the like, last 50 years, the more you see it represented, the more you see it discussed, the more you see people talking about it in a normal way rather than 'don't tell anyone but..' or 'this is really embarrassing, but..' It makes everything so much... that I'm thinking now of like other comics who do it with with their things, you like going back to how varied it is as well, like Catherine Bohart spoke when I was doing Vague, her debut show was called Immaculate, and she spoke about her OCD, which I think everybody immediately, myself included, was like, 'ah right, so you have to have, like your clothes organised in your wardrobe in colour or order, do you know what I mean, all your DVDs in alphabetical... or you wash your hands twice'. It's not that, it's so varied. There's so many different types of it, the way it manifests itself. People for ages off the back of that Big Brother series thought Tourette's was just...meant that you say the F-word loads, and it's not, there are different tics. Eshaan Akbar is a great comedian who's spoken on Mock The Week about his hearing aid. Like there's Ed Gamble who speaks about being diabetic and, like, just dispels loads and loads of myths. And actually, it means that the next time you're at work and somebody goes 'oh, I'm diabetic', you might just think back to that time you saw Ed on Mock The Week or you might think back to that time Catherine spoke about having OCD, and it stops you from going 'ah right, does that mean, I don't know that you're superstitious?' Do you know what I mean? Yeah, you've actually gone gone 'oh hang on, no there's a few different ways that this thing, that this person just said they've got manifests itself. I'll let them explain how it manifests itself for this person'.
Yeah, it goes back to what we were talking about at the beginning, doesn't it, the more you get it out there, the msconceptions are dispelled and like, yeah, kinda everyone learns.
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And it's totally normal for half for people to have those misconceptions, because of the information that is out at the moment is quite like frustratingly...
Frustratingly, yeah, Hollywoodified, simplified, liquidated. It's very bite-sized, isn't it?
And also, the only time that people might ever think about it is when it says on the news 'this report may contain images of flashing lights'.
Exactly. Exactly. And, you know, epilepsy is that what we have with with epilepsy of the flashing lights and the foaming at the mouth? That is what Catherine has with OCD with the arranging alphabetical, it's like what hearing aid people will have with like 'is what, like hearing aid people will have with like 'oh is it like a quiet place where you can't stand too near a radio because everything will go like high-pitched?' There'll be so many different types of ways that things manifest themselves. It's just the understanding that's important. But I think that comes from both sides is us being understanding of why people have those misconceptions, but just hoping that people don't assume? Don't assume...like you'll have the misconceptions.. I've made repeats of that. But wait for me to to set it straight rather than assume.
Well, thank you very much. It's been an absolute pleasure.
Where can people keep up with you?
I'm on Instagram and Twitter as @MaisieAdam. It's so weird because normally at the end of a podcast you like and I'll be gigging here. I don't know, I'm indoors for the forseeable I think. I think yeah, I think I'm hoping that I'll be back next year with with my third and, and hopefully best show yet.
I thought you were going to say final tour for a second!
Yeah, thought you were going to say third and final tour!
Retiring at 28?! No, I do not have the financial support for that!
Oh cheers Maisie, thank you so much.
Awesome stuff. I absolutely loved that conversation. I think that Maisie had some really beautiful things to say about epilepsy and different people's experiences with it and coming to terms with it. You know, we've said before on this podcast that it's really like a tough thing to deal with, particularly when you're a teenager and like, all the way through that kind of growing up kind of time. And I just think she had some awesome and really beautiful things to say.
Yeah, I think incredibly relatable. And, you know, like, she goes into so many things that I think a lot of people with epilepsy can really identify with, I think particularly like, you know, young people who have just been diagnosed. So yeah, absolutely amazing. And like she said, just keep up with her on Twitter and Instagram, and if you haven't seen her show, Vague, you can check it out on Amazon.
Yeah, thank you so much, Maisie.
Yeah, thank you very much. And that will about do it right now, for the epilepsycast. We are planning a Series Two - it's coming, it might not be with Hattie because she's going to be on maternity leave for a lot of 2021. But the best way to kind of keep up with us and the next episode of the podcast will be following us on social media, at Epilepsy Action, on pretty much anything. And if you subscribe to us, whether you listen to us on Spotify, or Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts, you'll get that directly to your feed. But Hattie, this might be the last podcast we do together for a little while. I'm not sure maybe, maybe we'll drop in for an episode in Season Two, but you're going to be missed. But I'm sure you'll be back.
But yes, I'm sure you're going to do some awesome things. And if you haven't already come across our other bonuscast for Purple Day, which is lots of voices of lots of different people with epilepsy all talking about the misconceptions that they've come across and what they would like people to know about epilepsy, then do look for that in your feeds as well. I think that's definitely well worth a listen to. And so we will be back soon. And in the meantime, we wish you all the very best.
Let's not leave it so long next time. See you in a bit!