‘Repulsive stories about objects in orifices’: Adam Kay brings This Is Going To Hurt to Melbourne

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‘Repulsive stories about objects in orifices’: Adam Kay brings This Is Going To Hurt to Melbourne

Adam Kay
Words by Tyler Jenke

When Adam Kay touches down in Australia for his visit to the upcoming Melbourne International Comedy Festival, border security might want to check where he’s supposed to be.

“I can’t wait to go on the world-famous Sound Of Music tour, eat some Wiener Schnitzel and visit Vienna’s iconic Schönbrunn Palace,” he says of his upcoming… Austrian tour.

Spelling errors notwithstanding, it’ll be Kay’s debut visit to the country, bringing the doctor-turned-comedian around Australia in April. Having performed as a comedian since his time in medical school, Kay worked in obstetrics and gynaecology between 2004 and 2010 before a traumatic experience saw him leave the profession.

Adam Kay – This Is Going To Hurt

  • April 6 to 21
  • Anthenaeum Theatre
  • Tickets are on sale now

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

In 2017, he turned his diaries of this time in medicine into a book titled This Is Going To Hurt – which is also the name of his upcoming show. The bestselling nonfiction book of the century, a winner of countless awards, and the inspiration for a television adaptation, it’s fair to say that Kay didn’t perceive this level of success.

I was the third person in my friendship group to write a book, so I expected mine would follow the established pattern – we’d all drink some warm white wine at a book launch, then the book would sell 17 copies and we would never speak of it again,” he says. 

“Instead, my books somehow sold five million copies and my mates have to pretend to be delighted for me.”

Kay’s live show has been a popular one, too. With 50 sell-out nights in London’s West End, it’s gained a massive audience, though if there was any fear that the material wouldn’t translate to the live show, he’s not letting on.

“I was a comedian before I attempted writing books, so I was relatively confident I could persuade my stories into some kind of show,” he admits. “I’ve toured it quite a lot now and I would say that 300,000 people in the UK can’t be wrong, but 17 million of people voted for Brexit, so…”

However, This Is Going To Hurt has its origins in Britain’s National Health Service, and controversial comments from politician Jeremy Hunt about junior doctors. Even with such a narrow focus guiding its writing, Kay says that the response has been a global one.

“I originally thought that I’d written a very parochial book about life in the NHS, but before long it was translated in 37 different languages and I was getting emails from doctors all over the world from Belgium to Bolivia saying that it could have been set in their hospital,” he says. 

“I’m told that the book was pretty popular in Australia – although that’s potentially because so many UK doctors have emigrated over….”

But will the material cross the necessary cultural boundaries for Aussie audiences? Time will tell, according to Kay. “So far the show has translated really well when I’ve performed overseas,” he says. “Ask me again in May, I guess!”

Despite joking that he simply tells “repulsive stories about objects in orifices”, Kay hopes that the local crowd will take away something more than just that – ideally reflecting on the medical system which they rely on. 

The show is all about my stories from the wards, drawing from my books and beyond – a mix of the funny, the disgusting, the silly and the sad; and I like to think that people leave my shows thinking differently about the healthcare professions. 

“If that’s not enough of a draw then I can promise audiences that so many doctors, nurses, midwives, and paramedics come to my shows that the venue will almost certainly be the safest place in Australia in which to have a medical emergency.”

With six dates scheduled for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and additional shows in Sydney, Brisbane, and Perth, is it fair to say this tour is “just what the doctor ordered”? Or maybe it’s worth saying “laughter is the best medicine”? Whatever your choice, Kay’s heard it all before.

“I’ve definitely had my fair share of those, plus the odd ‘gut-bustingly funny’, a lot of ‘funny bones’ and some ‘side-splitting’ references,” he says. 

“Someone once laughed until they soiled themselves during one of my shows, so I’d love a ‘seat-shittingly funny’ at some point.”

Grab tickets to Adam Kay’s This Is Going To Hurt here.