Richard Stott: Right Hand Man

Apparently, Richard Stott got into comedy “for all the wrong reasons”; at least, that’s what the aforementioned Richard Stott says. To the great relief of everyone in the room, however, it’s clear he’s NOT in the wrong career. While Stott may open his hour with some light, fairly predictable banter about life as a Fringe performer, it does the job of relaxing everyone, swiftly and expertly. Which is surely what any professional stand-up wants.

Honesty, good humour and just the right level of annoyance. Definitely one to watch out for.

It’s also important as it establishes the foundations for what could be termed his USP (Unique Selling Point) as a stand-up—that he has Poland Syndrome. It’s a non-life threatening physical impairment – named after a doctor called Alfred Poland, not the country – most commonly characterised by underdeveloped chest muscles and short webbed fingers on one side of the body. TV presenter Jeremy Beadle, who died in 2008, was arguably one of the most famous people in the UK to have the condition; will Stott take on that position at some point in the future? He could well do.

This show is not, however, some bespoke work of theatrical standup on disability access in the arts; it’s a show about a young man growing up with a condition that made him different, but not necessarily in the way you’d expect. He wasn’t bullied at primary school because of his small hand; not when he proved its usefulness in retrieving objects from cracks in the ground. It was only later in his life, following numerous operations to improve his posture and dexterity, that things began to change—and he began to understand what being disabled means, especially in show business.

For, sad to report, it’s not been at all plain sailing: Stott admits that he’s had to deal with depression, struggled with body dysmorphia, and generally been disappointed by an adult world that’s proved far less accepting than the one he first discovered when he started out at school. That, I guess, is the “message”: which he presents with honesty, good humour and just the right level of annoyance. Definitely one to watch out for.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

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★★★★

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Performances

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The Blurb

A debut show from a comedian who was born with Poland Syndrome making him lopsided with a misshapen hand. Following life-changing surgery, he has toes for fingers on his left hand and in this unflinchingly honest show, he examines body image, mental health and being disabled in an image-obsessed world. An hour of anarchic storytelling and acidic punchlines exploring how he has learnt to roll with the hand life dealt him and draw humour from what we are told is humourless. 'Heart-wrenchingly moving and unquestionably funny... I defy anyone not to be enthralled' (Evening Standard).

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