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Edinburgh Fringe 2016

 

Dr Phil's Rude Health Show

Droitwich Standard | Chortle | The Argus | Bournemouth Echo | Crackerjack

 

Droitwich Standard Logo

"Show just what the doctor ordered"

quotation marksTHOSE who went to 'check-up' on what Dr Phil Hammond's Rude Health Show was all about at Artrix were in for a real treat.


Despite the lack of a stethoscope at the practising GP's Bromsgrove appointment, the event was two hours of compelling listening and laughter - from his thinking behind about why he wanted to become a doctor to his anecdotes about being a GP
and working in maternity units, operating theatres and a sexual health clinics


He started off gently, talking about the NHS in general and the forthcoming election, giving his view (and one agreed with by most of the audience by the time he had finished) that the health service should not be politicised.


His chat about the views doctors and other healthcare professionals had of their jobs and what they did to make life on the front-line more bearable was also a fascinating insight from someone 'in the know'.


During the evening, Dr Phil also talked comically about NHS Direct and other theories, such as how everyone having a dog, with all the walking and stress-relieving petting time, could save the health service money and how, with optimists being healthier than pessimists, there should, maybe, be laughter on prescription - if the latter was the case, this GP was certainly doing his bit to cut NHS expenditure.


But, with all the humour, there were quite a few serious points made and Dr Phil's diagnosis brought pathos with it. It was clear he had both a passion for the NHS and strong views about how it was being failed - billions being ill-spent and much-needed money not going where it should be. He also gave some valuable advice about how patients should be questioning healthcare professionals more when they receive treatment, so they had a better understanding of what was going on and
to ensure they were getting the right level of care.

quotation marks
There was a strange feeling leaving the theatre - on the one hand, it had been a thoroughly entertaining 'warts and all' roller-coaster evening of raucous laughter, but on the other, you felt sad that, ironically, the health service wasn't getting the proper treatment it deserved.

Droitwich Standard Review^

 

Chortle Logo

quotation marksThink of the Venn diagram where comedy overlaps with healthcare and you’d be forgiven for conjuring up countless appalling medical student revues, with their unedifying, juvenile obsessions with the more revolting functions of the human body. Thank god, then for Dr Phil Hammond, to add a bit of maturity to the genre, combining an insider’s knowledge of the NHS, an activist’s zeal for wanting it to work better, and a comedian’s eye for the absurd.

That’s not to say he’s without the more gross anatomical bent, but his tales of objects found up rectums, farting in the operating theatre and the perils of do-it-yourself penis enlargement are tackled with as much class as such subjects can ever be done with. Yet they might also be classed as risqué, especially given that he attracts a more conservative middle-class audience than many comedians.

The key thing to note is that the intelligent Dr Phil knows what he’s talking about – especially when it comes to debunking the dangerous myth that doctors are infallible. His tales from his training – where he was nicknamed Dr Ten Thumbs for his near-lethal lack of dexterity – make the old Doctor films look like training videos. It’s certainly enough for you to hope you never need to go into hospital again.

He still works, occasionally, as a GP in Bristol if only, he confesses, for the material; and as a regular media commentator on the problems of the health service, he’s certainly on top of the topic. It’s somewhat disappointing, then, to find that he spends a big chunk of the second half on shaggy-dog jokes, excused under the pretence that he’s discussing longevity factors such as sex, when they seem to belong more in a generic after-dinner speech than a comedy show with such a clear angle.

Admittedly, the gags are funny, and delivered with the inherent authority we misguidedly assign to medics, but his unique first-hand knowledge is always going to be more fascinating. And he does more than his fair share of campaigning, too, whether its on the Bristol heart scandal, cutting junior doctors’ hours or on destigmatising STI. Plus this has to be one of the few comedy shows offering practical advice on how to remove a lightbulb from the place even the sun don’t shine.

quotation marksOther insights are more revelatory – except, perhaps, for those who already work in the NHS, who seem to think his apparently surprising disclosures are commonplace – and certainly explains the realities of the system (gential) warts and all. Plus the mix of fact, opinion, anecdotes and gags will certainly have you laughing – and the health benefits of that are well-documented.

Chortle Review^

 

Argus Logo

quotation marks“Everybody should know how to pleasure themselves in a safe and sustainable way,” Dr Phil Hammond kept reiterating.

With unerring ease, Hammond chatted and joked for almost two hours as though he was with his friends in the pub.

He covered all manner of subject matter relating to health, from hospitals, marriage and embarrassing illnesses to the advantages of getting a Labrador.

Firstly, Hammond focused on the election, informing us: “Everything we do is about the responsible use of power.” Speaking of Gordon Brown he revealed: “I’ve never seen anyone look that bad and still be vertical.”

The broadcaster and still practising GP was relaxed as he shared comical revelations from his early career in medicine and his escapades while studying at Cambridge, admitting he only wanted to become a doctor quotation marksbecause he believed it would enable him to pull. It was there he learnt to “put on the mask of relaxed brilliance”.

Hammond’s gags about bodies and medicine were sometimes explicit but never in bad taste. However, he admitted, “Keeping a straight face is the hardest thing a doctor has to learn.” The doctor was definitely on top form.

The Argus Review^

starstarstarstarstar

 

Bournemouth Echo

quotation marksIf Phil Hammond sails close to the wind he does so with what he himself would describe as a mask of relaxed confidence.

This is a family doctor with a shamelessly slick bedside manner and a wealth of stories, almost none of which can be repeated in a family newspaper.

Suffice to say we got TV doc and Private Eye columnist Hammond in full stand-up mode delivering stories about patients with ketchup bottles, turnips and even light bulbs where they really shouldn’t be.

Then there were the horror stories from his hapless early years in A&E and maternity.

A time when he was known as Dr Ten Thumbs and displayed the kind of sewing skills that routinely rearranged people’s anatomy and, on one notable occasion, left a man with a surgical glove attached to his head.

The Rude Health Show is classic knockabout medical banter but it also has a serious side - to expose the inadequacies of the NHS and to try and quotation marksempower patients and doctors to stand up for their rights.

Hammond points out that statistically we are 177,000 times more likely to be damaged by the health service than win the lottery.

It’s a sobering thought.

Bournemouth Echo Review^

 

Crackerjack Logo

quotation marksCrackerjack rating: 8 / 10.

I am sure it is quite rare to find a GP with the amount of energy and wit that South West GP, Comedian and Broadcaster, Phil Hammond possesses. 

If more GPs had his honesty, integrity and human touch – I am adament the profession would rise again in the ranks of the commendable and respectable. But as this looks unlikely, I and the roaring audience laughed along with Phil's jokes about part-time doctors, unqualified nurses, lazy receptionists and the saddening waste of money that is spent in the NHS. 

Phil warmly greeted the audience, opening the show with reference to the latest ‘ginger rodent’ comment regrettably made by Labour MP, Harriet Harmen earlier this week.  As a ginger man himself, with a strange sounding Australian and West Country accent, he had no problem seeing the ludicrously funny side of this slip of the tongue.

This led on to a healthy discussion about the link between politics and medicine and the impact and effect that the decisions made by MPs has on the profession and its patients.

Phil took the audience on a hilarious trip through his medical past, where we were introduced to patients with painfully embarrassing ailments, hilarious hypochondriacs, snooty professors at Cambridge and bubbly nurses. He beautifully wove together the scenes from his personal, academic and professional life to create a canvass of bright colour that made the audience (of all ages) laugh throughout. 

The magic of this show, lay in Phil's ability to charm the audience, to gain their trust – and then expose the hidden humiliating secrets of all our human bodies - pulling back the surgical curtain on us all.

Amongst the brash and honest humour were big questions around the moral and ethical decisions that often have to be made in the medical profession.

Phil talked widely about euthanasia and suicide, the rising amount of money being made by pharmaceutical giants on anti-depression drugs and the need for a more balanced and healthy lifestyle as a way of preventing 'social' illnesses and preserving medical resources.

This zesty live performance felt like a cross between Scrubs and Embarrassing Bodies. Bringing all the medical, personal and sexual embarrasments into the light.

quotation marksPhil is a genuine talent and asset to the South West - this performance was the perfect balance of crude humour and warm humanity that made us all turn bright red but also laugh ourselves silly over.
 
Emily Buist

Crackerjack Review^