Home » Rhod Gilbert reveals he’s writing stand up material on life with cancer
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Rhod Gilbert reveals he’s writing stand up material on life with cancer

RHOD GILBERT, a comedian, has written two hundred and fifty pages worth of material on living with cancer, and he intends to utilise it in his stand-up performances.

The Welshman, who is now 54 years old and was diagnosed with stage four cancer in July, revealed that he was receiving treatment at the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff. Prior to his diagnosis, he had been a fundraising patron at the facility.

After completing his treatment for cancer, he discovered that he needed additional surgery to address gallstones and reoccurring infections of the gallbladder. As a result, he had to postpone a string of upcoming live performances.

In his first interview with a national newspaper after receiving the diagnosis, Gilbert stated to the Guardian that “It does seem uncomfortable.” I’m not sure how much detail to go into on the cancer. I haven’t really given much thought to what I should say.

“I’m more than happy to talk about it but I haven’t had time to process it at all.”

Gilbert spent years confronting life’s mild irritants through his comedy, such as service stations and baked potatoes.

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Poking fun

Speaking about his 2012 live show ‘The Man With The Flaming Battenberg Tattoo’, he said: “I was having to look for things to be angry about, to fit what I did. And that’s diminishing returns, clearly. I felt that, and I think audiences felt that.”

After the tour ended, Gilbert quit live comedy and “didn’t write a word” and “didn’t miss it at all”.

After a seven-year break from stand-up, he returned with his tour ‘The Book of John’ to poke fun at more serious topics he had experienced, such as bereavement, infertility, and suffering a mini-stroke.

He said: “Until this show, all my stand-up was made up. I think pretty much everything was entirely fictitious. And in this show, it’s not. It’s all true stuff that happened: the stroke, my mum’s Alzheimer’s, the fertility treatment.

“As I got older, I started to feel that I’ve got a bit of a platform here. And I should be doing more with it than just talking about toothbrushes.

“I have definitely become somebody who wants to be really open and talk about stuff, and who sees the value in talking,” which he said was the same with his cancer.

No filter

Gilbert said he gets letters and emails from “all over the world” from people talking about their own experience of a stroke, parents with Alzheimer’s, or infertility.

“It’s a totally different response. And I really like it,” he said.

Talking about his new no-filter approach, he said: “Years ago, if I’d gone for a walk down the beach with the dog, I’d have kept my head down and not engaged with anybody.

“Whereas now, if somebody stops me, I’ll end up in an hour’s chat about infertility, cancer, whatever. The most intimate conversations.

“When I get through this, the next show will be in a similar vein. The cancer is on my mind 24/7, but, when I’m well enough to write, I’m jotting down a few things. And there is humour in there, definitely.”

Gilbert, who used to doubt he would ever write another stand-up show, said he is now “mad keen” to create a new one.

Optimistic

He said: “I’ve got a 250-page document of stuff that’s on the go. All my work has gone. My social life has gone. Everything has gone. Everything.

“It’s just me and this bloody cancer, really. I’m really aware of mental health now and I’m checking in with myself every day.

The comedian added he’s feeling optimistic and looking forward to the rescheduled tour dates for 2023, which have been pushed back until the summer.

Gilbert has been a regular guest on shows such as Would I Lie To You?, QI and Mock The Week over the years, and also hosted Never Mind The Buzzcocks from 2014-15.

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