He openly talks about his condition to audiences in his comedy shows
A comedian from Beverley who has a disability that affects his hand spoke about how he has learned to live with his condition and even use it in his comedy.
Richard Stott was diagnosed with Poland Syndrome when he was eight-years-old so he is missing a pectoral and his left hand is underdeveloped. His credits include The Stand Up Sketch Show (ITV2), The Nihal Arthanayake Show (BBC Radio 5 Live) and he was listed in The Times’ Best Jokes of the Fringe after he performed at the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe.
He will perform his new show, Afterparty, today (February 11) at Hull Truck Theatre. Richard is also an ambassador for the PIP-UK Poland Syndrome charity and as part of this, he sponsors a nine-year-old Hull rugby player, LJ Redfurne, who has the disability as well.
Richard said: “It was clear there was something different about me from birth. I was diagnosed when I was eight and I had operations until I was 11-years-old.
“I learned to live with it and I actually forgot what it was called until I was 25. It affects me in subtle ways as there are things I am less able to do like I have to type one-handed and I couldn’t tie my shoelaces before I had surgery but it is not detrimental to my life.
“Stand up comedians interpret their experience of the world so it will always come up in my work. The message I’m getting across is that it’s ok to talk and laugh about something and it’s nice to have an extra meaning to putting myself on stage.”
He said that one woman told him that after she watched one of his shows she spoke to her friend for the first time about how she is partially blind. Richard likes making people laugh while making them feel like they can talk about what makes them different and he uses his comedy to make people more aware of Poland Syndrome.
According to Richard, 1 in 20,000 people in the UK are affected by it but “not many people know about it”. As he grew up in Beverley, people who lived there knew about him and he was never teased at school.
When he left to go to university he said it was “different” because rather than people asking him about his disability in the way children ask questions without hesitation, he found himself having to bring up his condition himself. However, he “realised quite quickly” that people were interested in learning about Poland Syndrome and he became an ambassador for PIP-UK.
Gareth is LJ’s dad and he spoke about how his son copes with his disability. He said: “He acts like a normal kid. It doesn’t bother him.
“He’s testing himself all the time. He has been playing rugby since he was three or four. He loves it.
“He was diagnosed when he was three months old. His mum noticed his chest was flat on one side.
“We were completely unaware of Poland Syndrome. The nurse told us about it.
“LJ said he likes it and doesn’t want an operation. He’ll talk to anyone about it.”
Richard added that he thinks it is helpful for LJ to have an adult to talk to who also has Poland Syndrome. LJ’s mum, Steph, told the rugby team about PIP-UK and now the players wear a shirt with the charity’s logo on it.
Richard will perform his first full show back in Hull today after returning from the Fringe. Buy tickets for his show, Afterparty, at 8pm, on Hull Truck Theatre’s website.