The first words Joy Carter said to her new white adopted family was ‘Who are you?’ Now she’s created a whole stand-up show around her adoption called SPOT THE DIFFERENCE at Camden Comedy Club, 3-5 August.
Joy was born into the Biafran war in Nigeria in 1970, and was found by a passing Save the Children nurse and taken to a hospital in Engugu, where her adoptive parents were working.
“Spot the Difference is all about differences in family and society. I frame this whole thing around my adoption story from Nigeria. The concept of difference is very topical at the moment with Brexit. How do you talk to people who are different from you without trying to kill them?
“Brexit was a comedy gift, a racist comedy gift that keeps on giving. You couldn’t make it up. I was digging my parents garden in Scunthorpe and this lad went past me and shouted ‘You! Jamaica!’ and I thought ‘If you are going to insult me get the right continent! I am African! Get a map! I don’t even look Jamaican. I’m darker. Unless you are psychic and saying I might go, then thank you very much. I have always wanted to go.
“Everyone I know, who is from a different culture is using Brexit as a way to explore and talk about these horrific issues that are frightening people to death. I talk about the power of humour.”
When Joy performed her show Aspects of Joy, a one-woman comedy cabaret, it featured ten minutes on her adoption but she said that was what people wanted to talk about after the show.
“I really felt that I should bite the bullet and go there with this story. People receive comedy so it is a great way to explore uncomfortable issues, like the time when someone said to me ‘go back to where you came from’ and I was upset. I walked back into Top Shop and spent £600 on my credit card!
“It is an exciting show. People are invigorated after the show, they want to talk, they want to connect. People may have been adopted or fostered and may be in tears because I have talked about difficult issues. Or they may be inspired, thinking there is hope, no matter what you have gone through in your life, whatever trauma, you can work through the process.
“My parents have seen the show. They were nervous but they absolutely loved it. It is a creative show. I am painting word pictures, and breaking it down, rather than just being angry, making it relevant to people.
“I am going to take this to Edinburgh but I am also planning on developing this in October into a 20-date UK tour because we need more people adopting and fostering. This is a great way to engage people and encourage more people to foster and adopt.
“Comedy got people through the first world war and the second world war. You may die tomorrow but you can laugh your way through it.”
For more details on this show and to buy tickets visit www.camdenfringe.com
Photographs by Elspeth Mary Moore