Why comic Jake Lambert desires the world to snort about his epilepsy – Epilepsy Society

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Printed on 23 December 2021
Up to date: 23 December 2021
Authored by Nicola Swanborough
Comic Jake Lambert is 32 and on a mission to get individuals speaking – and laughing – about epilepsy, extra particularly his personal epilepsy. He makes use of his stand-up comedy gigs throughout the nation to deliver the home down whereas on the similar time serving to audiences to know extra concerning the situation. And it’s working.
Jake Lambert is smiling and  holding his one-eyed black cat, Richard Parker
As a comic, Jake Lambert admits there may very well be few higher locations to have had a primary seizure than whereas attempting on a pair of denims in Prime Store.
“The irony is, I had my first seizure in a becoming room,” laughs Jake. And the second has now develop into a pivotal a part of a profession that places epilepsy properly and really within the highlight.
Jake has constructed a reputation for himself on the comedy circuit, laughing about his epilepsy. He recurrently helps massive acts together with Michael McIntyre, Alan Carr and Jack Dee, in addition to headlining himself in sell-out excursions.
He has made it to the finals and semi-finals of a formidable line up of comedy awards. And he recurrently writes for Mock the Week, 8 out of 10 Cats, The Nice British Bake Off: An Further Slice and The Apprentice: You’re Fired!, to call however a couple of.
Jake is performing on stage, leaning on the mic. He looks fairly serious. The background is black
But although he admits he can see audiences sitting up and listening with a unique sort of attentiveness when he talks about epilepsy, he’s nonetheless nervous about how his ‘epilepsy materials’ will land.
“I imply epilepsy isn’t humorous. In any respect. And I’d hate anybody within the viewers with epilepsy to assume that I used to be laughing at them or mocking the situation. I’m not and I wouldn’t,” stresses Jake.
“I solely ever snort about my very own epilepsy and the best way I’ve handled it or didn’t cope with it. I’m completely at all times the butt of my jokes. However I would like to assume that it helps to normalise the situation for different individuals and will increase consciousness of what it’s prefer to have seizures.
“I personal my epilepsy so I believe it provides me a proper to speak about it in a manner that somebody who hasn’t had seizures wouldn’t have the ability to. The second I point out this big, heavy topic, I can see the temper within the viewers change after which change once more with a kind of aid once they hear me joking about it. It makes the entire thing really feel far much less scary.”
Jake additionally admits he’s shameless in capitalising on his epilepsy in a manner that has gained the admiration and envy of different comedians.
“After I begin speaking about my epilepsy, I reassure the viewers that I don’t have the kind of seizures which can be triggered by flashing lights. My seizures are triggered by stress, tiredness (each true) and folks not laughing at my jokes. Jack Dee loves that one. The viewers sits up and thinks we’d higher snort in case he falls over.”
Jake can be fast to level out his situation has perks. “I received my covid vaccine manner past my friends. Not as a result of I’m 75 however as a result of I’ve epilepsy.”
It might be arduous to not snort at Jake Lambert. Even sitting at his kitchen worktop on a Zoom name, his one-eyed cat, Richard Parker, curled at his ft, he simply is humorous. His one-liners tackle the stigma round epilepsy with a punch that cuts to the core.
“I don’t need to be branded as ‘an epileptic comic’. Epilepsy isn’t a label. I say I’ve epilepsy, not that I’m epileptic – it is one thing I’ve, not one thing I’m. When individuals ask the distinction I clarify that I’ve a Ford Focus however I’m not a Ford Focus.”
Jake Lambert is laughing at the camera
And his anecdotes permit comedy to kiss and inform all about epilepsy in a manner that delivers perception right into a situation that hardly ever takes centre stage.
“After I inform individuals I’ve epilepsy, I can see them pondering ‘ah that is smart’,” laughs Jake. “I think about they assume ‘that’s why he retains questioning off subject.’”
And he refuses to fret that his epilepsy will deter brokers from reserving him. “If I can drive at 70mph down the motorway, I’m fairly positive I can stand on stage. I’d not need to work for anybody who thought in any other case.”
Jake was recognized with epilepsy in his first 12 months at college, though he was no stranger to the situation.
“My older sister, Claire, had epilepsy once we have been rising up,” he explains. “I had by no means seen her having a seizure however I used to be at all times conscious of the occasions my dad needed to kick down the toilet door once we heard her having a seizure within the bathe.
“My dad and mom would put Claire to mattress and test that she may recognise them and knew what day of the week it was.”
Jake Lambert is sitting in a director's chair
When Jake had his first seizure within the altering room at Prime Store, he didn’t inform his dad and mom. “I genuinely didn’t need to hassle them and I used to be apprehensive they might insist that I went house, or they might come up and put me to mattress.
“I used to be very fortunate in that my seizures have been shortly introduced beneath management with medicine. On the time I simply took it as a right that you simply go to the physician and no matter you’ve gotten is sorted with medication. If I used to be going by means of the identical expertise now, I’d be far more grateful and amazed that that medication was in a position to type out my epilepsy.
“My physician stated my seizures have been triggered by lack of sleep, stress and alcohol, three phrases that might actually be used to explain uni. I’m shocked we weren’t all having seizures. I attempted to verify I used to be protected by placing pillows round my desk and a cover on the ground if I assumed I may need a seizure. However to be trustworthy, I used to be younger and a bit foolish. I assumed I used to be untouchable and put my very own well being second to having a superb time.
“As soon as the medicines had sorted my seizures out, I simply despatched my dad and mom a textual content to say what had occurred and that I used to be nice and, actually, they have been okay about it. I believe they thought I used to be being extra smart than I truly was.
“My associates have been additionally nice and supportive. They known as me ‘Shakey Jake’, so I lastly had a nickname. It was prefer it had been written within the stars.”
Jake is unsure about whether or not he had seizures as a baby. “My physician stated absence seizures of 5-15 seconds have been fairly widespread in youngsters. If I used to be having them, it doesn’t say a lot about my in-put in school, that no-one seen.”
Jake did nonetheless expertise what he calls ‘Alice in Wonderland syndrome’ the place his perspective on his environment stored altering. “I’d be mendacity in mattress and all the things would both appear very massive and actually shut, or very small and much away,” he explains.
“The bed room door would immediately really feel as if it was an inch from my face and shutting in on me. Then the attitude would change utterly. I don’t know if this was an aura or not, however I knew I needed to sleep. Different occasions I’d have the ability to simply collect myself collectively till issues felt regular once more.”
Jake Lambert looks serious and contemplative.
Jake’s dedication to persevering with the dialog about epilepsy is pushed by his want to help different individuals and enhance understanding of the situation. He has an hour-long present ‘Shimmy Shake’ deliberate for the Edinburgh Competition in 2022, which can be solely about his epilepsy. And he has written a sit com about his experiences which has been picked up by a manufacturing firm.
Once more, his nerves floor: “I’m a bit apprehensive about whether or not individuals can be comfortable to see epilepsy represented in a light-hearted manner however I can be consulting with different individuals with epilepsy to verify I get it proper.”
Shimmy Shake can be joke heavy. The sit com can have extra mild and shade,
“After I first began out in comedy, I wouldn’t have had the abilities and instruments to speak about my epilepsy in the best way that I do now. I couldn’t have made it humorous,” says Jake. “However now, it’s nearly a manner of claiming to my epilepsy that I’m in management, it hasn’t received me. It’s in all probability a really British manner of coping with it. My household is similar. My sister and nephew each have epilepsy however all of us get on with our lives.”
After one in all Jake’s current gigs, a member of the viewers thanked him for speaking about his epilepsy. She advised him her son had simply been recognized with the situation and it was good to listen to somebody speak about it so brazenly.
“It was so good of her to come back and inform me that,” says Jake, with a palpable sense of aid and gratitude. “I actually hope that my comedy and expertise will assist her son, and others like him, realise you could stay with epilepsy and snort.”

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