Yo! I’m a stand-up comedian with Tourette’s currently living in Philadelphia. Most of my jokes are very short and about dirt and birds and stuff. I am ten thousand years old. If I could be any animal, I would be a mountain goat, they seem rad.
Comedy Credit Stuff
- I was interviewed about my stand-up and Tourette’s on Tosh.0 on Comedy Central
- Pete Davidson (SNL)
- Adam Lowitt (The Daily Show)
- Natasha Leggero (Another Period)
I perform frequently at Good Good Comedy Theatre in Philadelphia, occasionally at Helium Comedy Club, and various other bars and locations throughout the city.
Do people with Tourette’s actually curse?
Yes, but only like 10% or less of people with Tourette’s have the cursing type, called coprolalia. It’s a common misconception that all people with Tourette’s curse.
Most people with Tourette’s say other words, make noises, have bodily twitches, or have a variety of other tics that even include singing. It’s a whole spectrum of severity as well, and many people go completely undiagnosed.
Is the Tourette’s painful?
No, I know I look like I might be in pain, but it does not hurt whatsoever. Occasionally I pull my neck from jerking it back, and that hurts, but that’s not too often. They can get tiring though, especially if the same part of my body tics repeatedly, but certain muscles are more used to that by now.
Have you always had Tourette’s?
I had a mild form of undiagnosed Tourette’s growing up. I would clear my throat and twitch my head fairly often, but I just assumed these were just nervous tics, as opposed to Tourette’s. I likely developed the mild form of Tourette’s when I was 7 or so. When I was 21, I developed the more severe form of Tourette’s.
So you just suddenly developed severe Tourette’s out of nowhere at 21?
Basically, yeah. Over the course of several months I slowly started shaking randomly and initially thought I might be having mild seizures. I went to a doctor who said it was likely Tourette’s and that I should see a neurologist. By the time I went to the neurologist, I had already started cursing, so at that point it was obviously Tourette’s.
Oddly enough, another member of my family has since also developed Tourette’s at an older age, so it seems like it may be due to unusual genetics. (Previously, I had speculated that it might have been drug induced.)
Is there a physical sensation with the tics?
Yes, it’s sort of a mental tension that briefly grips my mind, or specific muscles. I don’t always notice it if I’m not thinking about it, especially if it is a faster or smaller tic. I sort of divide them into faster bursts that I think of as tics, and slower waves that I think of as more like OCD compulsions. The compulsions are much more of an obvious thing to feel mentally, because they stick around for a lot longer. As examples, a tic might be something like a quick arm spasm, whereas a compulsion might be me repeatedly slapping my neck for a few minutes.
Do you exaggerate it on stage? You mostly only curse between jokes, that’s seems too well timed.
Right so, I don’t exaggerate it, but I do let it happen. I can hold it for short periods of time, but it’s like a tension that builds up and gets worse when I do finally release it. So I actually do try to purposefully let it happen between jokes so that the tension is released, and not an issue then when I am actually telling the joke.
Do you have the riffs planned?
Sort of! The bottle riff in the 2018 video was not intentional, that was just pure luck, but I do have some of the riffs semi planned. The thing is, certain tics have to happen before I can do the riffs. The Zelda noise one is actually one I have done before, but I only do that riff if I happen to have that specific noise tic while I’m on stage. Same with the “fuck — the police” joke.
Why don’t you hold it while you are on stage?
It’s like blinking. Most of the time you just blink without thinking about it, but you can hold your eyes open if you want to. When you try to hold your eyes open for an extended period of time, you feel the tension build up like you really need to blink. Then when you do blink, you have to do it a bunch. Imagine if you tried to hold your eyes open the entire time you are on stage telling jokes, it’s extremely difficult and you would probably break part way through.
Are you always cursing and shaking off stage as much as you are on stage?
No, my Tourette’s is usually not as severe off-stage. There are different things that make it worse. For me, some of those things are anxiety, stress, nervousness, strong emotions, a change in sexual arousal, caffeine, sugar, adrenaline, embarrassment, etc. Being on stage in front of people telling jokes is a nerve-wracking experience that noticeably makes it worse.
Are you on medicine?
Not currently, but I was previously. The thing with Tourette’s medicine currently is that it is all medicine for other things, like anxiety, that sometimes happens to work for Tourette’s, but none of them are for Tourette’s specifically. I was on anxiety medication which was actually working for me, but it also hurt my heart, so I stopped.