By Dana Zhang
Vincent Clark is the unhealthiest man alive, but he doesn’t want your pity. He doesn’t do drugs or drink alcohol, because he “is already high on life.” He may not want your pity, but he will get your laughter with corny one-liners that are as surprising as they are creative. Mr. Clark has harrowing health problems but also a sense of humor about the ridiculousness of his experiences. That comes across in his show, “An Unhealthy Man Lectures You on Medical Issues,” in which he demonstrates his will to live joyfully despite many difficulties. Though his ailments may get him down, he has a life he wants to live in spite of his ill health.
Mr. Clark is good at overturning expectations. As a prelude to his show, he says there’s no need to turn down our cellphones, contradicting the instructions of the house manager. We can take video if we want, too. “What am I gonna do, call the police?” Turning away, he says, “I hope you enjoy the show.” Then he turns back around again and adds, “or not.” His nonchalant delivery got the audience every time.
In Act I of the show – “There is no Act II,” says Mr. Clark, receiving laughter – he recounts several post-surgery complications. It is sometimes hard to tell where these stories are meant to lead, as Mr. Clarks regales us with the horrors of sleeping with a catheter. He describes a terrible experience in which a doctor prescribes him something Mr. Clark dubs “tormentizone.” This medication comes with many horrible side effects, of which Mr. Clark was not informed, including diarrhea, black stool, intense dry mouth, loss of train of thought, and a disease that would follow him for the rest of his life: diabetes.
Mr. Clark “has never met a carb I didn’t get along with,” so when he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it was especially hard for him. In the show’s moving climax, he lists all the medication he has to take, including the ointment he has to apply daily to avoid lesions appearing on his skin, and eye drops. He cannot read a book without a magnifying glass, and, as his face crumples, he admits that he is “tired of living like a lab rat.” So, he decides to stop following the dietary guidelines for diabetics, and becomes a “non-compliant diabetic.” Tired of all the restrictions he already has to live with, he refuses to tolerate restrictions on his diet.
As he sits at the table onstage and eats a Big Mac, we see a video of him singing about diabetes, accompanied on a keyboard. His singing is wonderful, and the song delightful. The show ends with another song about how he responds whenever someone tells him that he is letting the disease take him over. It is a song about false statements he is frequently told, including that if he listened to a doctor, he would not need a miraculous solution to his problems. This last song is about Mr. Clark’s reconciliation with his diseases. They are a part of him, and he will continue to live for his own sake, courageously. He lives courageously by turning his diseases into a glorious show that affirms not only the diseases but also Mr. Clark himself.
“An Unhealthy Man Lectures You on Medical Issues”
Written, Directed, and Performed by Vincent Clark
Nov. 2 at 6pm
Photo: courtesy of the production
United Solo 2018
410 West 42nd Street
New York City
DANA ZHANG is a multimedia journalist versed in editorial, photography, and video editing. She writes about pop culture, the performing arts industry, and the human experience. Zhang graduated from New York University in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and interned at Newsweek Media for a year while in university. Zhang is also an avid gamer and dancer.