Comedian Markus Birdman brings his show A Stroke of Luck to Southbank Centre as part of Death: Southbank Centre’s Festival for the Living.
They say life begins at 40. But then you have a stroke. Oh goodie. Markus talks to us about life, love and death, and laughing in the face of it all….
What effect do you think your stroke had on your life?
Physically the effects have been quite minor. It has only damaged my eyesight. So I’m able to be grateful. It was a warning shot which made me realise I should enjoy life while it lasts and not to take it too seriously. A ‘don’t sweat the little stuff’ lesson.
Why did you feel you could, and wanted to, turn your experience into a comedy show?
Well, firstly I am comedian with quite a dark sense of humour. So I’m playing to my strengths. But it was probably very therapeutic for me. All I seemed to be doing for six months was attend hospital and self obsess, so talk about what you know, right? Plus doing jokes about X Factor seemed trivial under the circumstances.
Do you think comedy is important in dealing with matters of life and death?
Absolutely crucial. Because it’s an environment to be really candid and an opportunity to make taboo subjects palatable. Laughter is the best medicine. Well in my case it’s actually a blood thinner called chlopedodril, but the point stands. However it’s something that too many comedians currently avoid which is a real pity.
One of the installations forming part of Death: Southbank Centre’s Festival for the Living is a blackboard on which people can write what they would like to do before they die. What three things do you want to do before you die?
Wow, I’d like to be in a gangster film, with a shooter swearing loudly, whilst Johnny Depp does something louche. I’d like to try and return an Andy Murray serve on centre court. And I’d like to see peace on earth for all the children. Actually never mind the last one.
Markus Birdman – A Stroke of Luck is at Southbank Centre on Sunday 29 January at 6pm.
For more information see the webpage here.