Edinburgh Fringe 2013
A hilarious lecture from Adam Kay’s alter ego, a bombastic quack on the make, shows us just how easy it is to become a bogus doctor. And if you stay to the end you’ll get a nice certificate to prove your (in)competence.
Has there ever been a better time to be a doctor, bogus or otherwise? The NHS is in crisis (again) with waiting lists heading in the wrong direction, forcing those who want to jump the queue to pay through the nose and go private. Plenty of opportunity, then, for the enterprising entrepreneur to make a killing pedalling any kind of medicine to affluent, overweight middle-aged women with depression.
And why bother with the delay and £100,000 expense of qualifying down the traditional route when you can spend just £10 for an hour of training by a bombastic whirlwind that is Adam Kay’s alter ego, and emerge from a Pleasance Beside venue with an atmosphere the temperature of Jupiter replete with an authentic looking certificate to say that you are now an actual doctor licensed to practice actual medicine.
Kay’s alter ego is everything you might expect from someone trying to instil the essentials of medicine into a bunch of hapless student half-wits; loud, bombastic, didactic, rude, intolerant, condescending, arrogant and completely out of touch. But it’s also hilarious, except if you happen to be sitting in the front row within range of his ire and barbaric wit. Humiliating (gently) everyone within the length of his stethoscope, we learn that the first rule of becoming a bogus doctor is to economise. So don’t waste money on a thermometer, get a red biro and cover the end of it. And don’t invest in a sophisticated defibrillator when a toaster and a set of jump leads will do the job just as well.
The remaining modules introduce other pearls of wisdom, including the concept of Ryannair pricing (low base but with the extras designed to fleece you dry), with breaks thrown in every so often to ensure that we at least grasp the essentials of a few common medical conditions. I particularly like his definition of incontinence – the point in your life where your kids sell your house and put you in an old folks home.
This was a tour de force performance from an extremely talented writer and comic. Commanding the small stage throughout, he augmented this at times hysterical hour with a wonderful variety of props and used the most up to date technology to ensure his points hit home – a PC that dated from about 1980 and the latest in slide projectors, one of those that comes with a long wire and a button allowing you to click the carousel forwards to the next epic illustration.
They say laughter is the best medicine and there is now some clinical evidence to suggest this might actually be the case. In which case Adam Kay should be available on prescription. Private prescription, of course.