Jade Byrne. 23.1.20

Finding comedy inside of tragedy, Jade Byrne has spent her recent history educating and entertaining audiences in the topic of type 1 diabetes.  Ironically, it’s been the process of creating, and performing, the award-winning show ‘Pricks’ that Byrne herself may be the student who’s learnt the most.  Damian Robinson caught up with Byrne to find more out about the show including the impact it has on it’s audiences; “a lot of people find it a tear jerker”.

As a comedian the topic of diabetes seems like a tough challenge for laughs; did you not fancy picking a more accessible subject?

Ha, good point.  I think the show is more than just about making people laugh, it’s about topics like my personal journey with diabetes from a young age and how it has affected the relationship I have with my family.  The show is a mixture of humour and seriousness, and whereas I do look to make people laugh I wanted the show to be educational for an audience.  We talk quiet a lot about diabetes but we know very little about it.

Was it difficult to find humour in such a serious topic?

Not really, I’ve always thought it’s better to laugh than to cry.  I was conscious of this point before I wrote the show and spoke to over 400 people affected by type 1 diabetes, of which I’m one.  I wanted to make sure that the humour I did find wasn’t trivialising or upsetting people with the same condition as me.

As both the creator and the performer of the show, did/ do you find it harder to write the play than to perform it?

At first I found it really difficult to write about myself; I’m not the kind of person who enjoys talking about themselves.  I found it hard to write my story.  In the end I had to work through a few sessions with a third person.  Once I’d started I found it really therapeutic. 

Were there any parts of your story which were hardest to write, and then share?

One of the first scenes is me as a four-year-old trying to understand diabetes.  It was really challenging to connect with myself as a four year old; I remember hearing that I had diabetes but picked out the phrase ‘die-a-beaties’ and was petrified as I thought I was going to die.  I think that shock stayed with me for years and really shaped my personality.

This is your first outing in Stockton with the show, are you excited?

I really am.  A lot of the show was written with funding from an arts group from the area so in a way I feel like I’m taking the show back to the place of it’s birth.

Pricks will play The Georgian Theatre Stockton on the 25th March.