Liam Withall was days away from going on a well-paid gig aboard a cruise ship when he received a call from the hospital. Plans in tatters, he goes and spends the next 2 weeks being awoken at 6am every day by nurses doing observations.
You see, Liam suffers from Inflammatory bowel disease, a condition where the digestive tract becomes inflamed, causing bloating, pain, and constant diarrhoea. Unlike the comparatively breezy IBS (“It’s everywhere, like Ed Sheeran, and I have no time for that?!”) left untreated, it can cause complications that can prove fatal. A safe inflammation marker is below 5 – Liam at time of admission was reading 84.
Liam’s show is a raucous retelling of his time in hospital, mixed with some brilliant crowd work, political critique, and general observation commentary. Liam is a natural raconteur, using a whiteboard on stage to mirror his observation charts in hospital. The audience became so invested they were activating oohing and aahing as the numbers went up and down each day.
Although a pretty horrendous situation to be in, Liam manages to avoid the temptation to make the show a pity-party, instead extracting every ounce of humour from the situation, while finely threading the needle of treating the debilitating disease with the respect required; acknowledging that people severely underestimate the struggle that those with hidden disabilities go through.
This was a suburb hour of comedy, with a poignant underlying message – an impressive feat given that it’s predominantly about poo!