Wednesday 20th December at The Caroline of Brunswick, Brighton
Having a diagnosis of ADHD myself, I was excited to see ADHD The Experience. Our first ADHD moment of the evening, satnav took us to the Brunswick and not the Caroline of Brunswick, and so when we arrived fashionably late, we were joined by a few other ADHD audience members, also late, as we tried to sneak into the small theatre as quietly as possible.
ADHD The Experience! is an educational, comedy night set up by Suzi Payton, who is a neurodivergent (AuDHD, Tourette’s, OCD) creative and multi-passionate trailblazer! After many years as a teacher, Suzi gave up teaching and now works as a coach, comedian, speaker and events organiser to help ADHD awareness and understanding of lived experiences. Suzi was joined by 3 other ADHD speakers as their stories made me laugh and even learn a little more about my own ADHD traits.
I walked in as newcomer, Helen Davies, made the audience laugh. You would never know this was her first foray into the world of stand up. She’s funny. She told me herself at the break. Maybe she can be a little cocky but she wasn’t wrong about being funny. She did grab my attention with her stories about her massive neurodivergent fuc@ ups. And yes, she made the audience & I laugh.
Helen has spent many years in nursing. She had us in stitches telling us of the benefits of being able to use her ADHD spidey sense when working in A and E. Helen told us how she used her hypervigilance to be able to find out really quickly what the crux of her patient’s issue was. This combined with her Macedonian traits, had us hearing how Helen didn’t get her self-diagnoses until her 50’s, also due to the waiting lists, which many of us can emphasise with. We heard about how it looks like Helen has had a consistent job, as she has had many jobs but always in the NHS, and apparently as long as you do overtime the NHS doesn’t care if it’s one consistent job or not. She ended it on a positive note, motivating others by showing how ADHD has helped her career, as she has been a senior NHS staff member for many years.
Suzi Payton aka Dolly Parton
Suzi was an endearing compere. She talked about how neurodivergent people have it harder. Unlike most comedy shows, Suzi invited us to move around if we have the ADHD itches and were finding it hard to sit still. She asked us about sounds and made us laugh listing the various sensory issues & sounds that ADHD people often find hard to cope with. Babies crying – she said it triggers her nervous system and physically hurts, whereas most people say “poor baby!”. Audience members agreed – the sound of people eating, misophonia. The rage caused by the sound of people crunching apples or the glaring contests she has with her wife when they are both getting enraged with the noise of each other munching crisps on the sofa.
She created a rap about noises that annoy us and decided on the spot to do it for us! I don’t know about you but I love a good, short but funny rap!
Next up came Dolly Parton aka Suzi with a southern drawl. Polly entered with her own version of 9 – 5 which got the audience clapping along. Polly did the prize draw with £500 worth of prizes.
Peggy RG started by showing us her resting confused face. She made some great impressions of the man who invited her to join her space club. She was so confused that her hat fell off. She wanted to join his club but membership fees were too “astronomical”. Apparently, she is very like Ellon Musk due to her being problematic, she meant autistic. She likes spontaneous activities, as long as they are structured. She gave some examples of the autistic mind and how she views brown sauce on a trip to ASDA. You see brown sauce, “wow, brown sauce, it’s something I have heard of, something I’ve seen but when you think about it and really, really think about it, what actually is it?”. In her view, Autistic people love ASDA because ASDA stands for Autism Spectrum Disorder Arrrghhh. The audience rarely stopped laughing. She delivered it far better than can be perceived on paper.
Talked about her love of maths, which helps her job as an autistic, ADHD accountant. She is also 2e, a new term to me meaning Twice exceptional, with a high IQ/gifted plus neurodivergent. She loved maths so much at school that she was one of those kids who said “please can I have homework”. Hyperfocus, she’d read a whole maths book in one night. Lisa got a scholarship to prep school and told us how she loved her black suitcase. In the 80’s a black suitcase was a yuppie accessory. These days people think 50 shades of grey!
Lisa gave us more examples of autism thinking. How everything has to be fair and just so. She was selected for the netball team and was goal defender but looked up at the netball post, which was twisted. She screamed internally, that’s not fair as it has to be straight when someone takes a shot. So just when the other person took a shot, she moved the post. The opposite team scored and this didn’t make her very popular!
Lisa finished off by asking for audience volunteers but waited until people had volunteered to let us know that they’d be helping in her version of “On the first day of Xmas ADHD gave to me”. It was a fitting Xmas ending that had us singing and giggling as we went through the stereotypes.
“On the first day of Xmas ADHD gave to me a shortage of amphetamine”. It was great to make humour out of the face that so many of us with ADHD have struggled recently due to national shortages. As well as being an incredibly funny accountant, Lisa is also a non-exec director and business mentor and ADHD life Coach and Professional Speaker, providing Neurodiversity consulting to businesses and coaches.