Cancer is on my mind 24/7, but there’s definitely humor to it

Comedian Rhod Gilbert has said he is committed to using his cancer experience in his next stand-up show, having written 250 pages of material.

The 54-year-old Welshman announced in July he had stage four cancer and was being treated at the Velindre Cancer Center in Cardiff, where he was a fundraiser prior to his diagnosis.

He recently postponed a series of January tours after discovering he required additional surgery due to gallstones and recurrent gallbladder infections.

Gilbert told the Guardian in his first national newspaper interview since his diagnosis: “I feel weird. I don’t know how much to talk about cancer. I really couldn’t figure out what to say.

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

Gilbert has spent years confronting the mild irritants of life through his comedy, like gas stations and baked potatoes.

Speaking about his 2012 live performance The Man With The Flaming Battenberg Tattoo, he said, “I had to look for things to get angry at that fit with what I had done. And these are clearly declining profits. I felt it and I think the audience felt it.”

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

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Rihanna and Rhod Gilbert taping The Graham Norton Show (Yui Mok/PA)

After a seven-year hiatus from stand-up, he returned with his The Book Of John tour to poke fun at the more serious topics he experienced, such as bereavement, infertility and mini-stroke.

He said, “Up until this show, all my stand-up was made up. I think almost everything was completely fictional. And that’s not the case with this series. It all really happened: the stroke, my mom’s Alzheimer’s, the fertility treatment.

“When I was growing up, I started to feel… that I had a bit of a platform here. And I should be doing more than just talking about toothbrushes.

“I’ve definitely become someone who wants to be really open and talk about different things and who sees value in talking,” which he said was about his cancer.

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

“It’s a completely different reaction. And I like it a lot,” he said.

Speaking about his new no-filter approach, he said: “Many years ago, if I had gone for a walk with my dog ​​on the beach, I would have kept my head down and not been engaged to anyone.

“Now, if someone stops me, I’m going to end up with an hour-long chat about infertility, cancer, whatever. The most intimate conversations.

“Once I get through this, the next show will be in a similar vein. Cancer is on my mind 24/7, but when I feel well enough to write, I jot down a few things. And there’s definitely humor in that.”

Gilbert, who doubted he would ever write another stand-up comedy, said he was now “madly anxious” to create a new one.

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Rhod Gilbert has said he is determined to use his cancer experience in his next appearances (Ian West/PA)

He said: “I have a 250-page document that is on the move. All my work is gone. My social life is over. Everything is gone. Everything.

“It’s really just me and the damn cancer. I am now really mental health conscious and check myself daily.

“I feel fine, weird. I am happy, optimistic and hopeful that next year everything will work out.”

The comedian added that he is also looking forward to the rescheduled 2023 tour dates, which have been pushed back to the summer.

Gilbert has been a regular guest on shows like Am I Lying?, QI and Mock The Week over the years, and hosted Never Mind The Buzzcocks in 2014-15.

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