After a hiatus that lasted almost 15 years, David Baddiel returned in 2013 with the stage show FAME: Not The Musical, in which he discussed the perks of celebrity and the pitfalls of his fame. His latest show, MY Family: Not The Sitcom touches on the taboos surrounding mental illness, death and infidelity. Despite the range of tougher material, My Family is not a major departure from Baddiel’s previous work. This intimate Olivier-nominated one-man show is an awareness raising experience wrapped in a stand-up routine and follows the straight-talking performer’s private life.
Crafting a compelling show around his mother, Sarah who throughout her marriage carried out an affair with a golf memorabilia salesman and passed away late 2014. His father, Colin who previously worked as a research chemist at Unilever and currently suffers from Pick's disease (a rare form of dementia) and includes stories of his two brothers (one older, one younger).
Embracing our rough edges, rather than plastering over them, Baddiel focuses on memory and particularly how we choose to be remembered. It may sound like an overshare of a show when hearing Baddiel read aloud one of the (many) romantic emails his mother sent to her manstress or showing footage of his family without their full consent. However, this is a show that deals with truth and memories. As his fathers’ illness and mothers’ death threatens to erase the fragments that made them unique, Baddiel chooses to share his stories of them honestly, and that means letting go of decorum.
Adding a real stage to the grieving process, this non-judgemental letter of love processes grief through comedy. As Baddiel’s Twitter @Baddiel will prove, he has always worked to keep conversations open, whether that be with fake news fanatics, racists or holocaust deniers. He appears to embrace the trolls and bat away offense using comedy. Here he continues to ‘make fun of these bullies as they take us down’ and in a series of stories he captures the colourful nature of family for the audience.
Talking about his mother, who became a golf memorabilia salesperson after starting an affair with a golf memorabilia salesman. He explains she then went on to write five books on the topic and brought a rivalry to the relationship.
We don’t all respond to grief in the same way, but who wouldn’t rather laugh through the pain. Baddiel’s storytelling brings a brutally personal perspective on mental illness and ageing. One that is brilliantly relatable and highlights that without this type of honest commentary, there would be no conversation at all.