(500) Days of Stammer // Aidan Greene

The title is a pun on a romantic comedy film title, and it turns out this is because Aidan Greene loves rom-coms. So in his show, he presents a classic love story - the only difference being that this one is about a boy and his stammer. As Greene says, rom-coms are hopelessly formulaic: hero (usually but not necessarily a boy) meets the object of his affection (usually but not necessarily a girl), and the audience immediately knows they are in love. A lot of conflict happens, the hero loses the object of his affections, but they inevitably get back together after the hero makes a long and impassioned speech. You sense that last bit will be the hard part in this particular story - although (spoiler alert!) since his stammer is there on stage with him, we know the hero will get to be with the object of his affection at the end of this story as well.

Greene met his stammer aged four, and started speech therapy aged six. He says there are always a lot of speech therapists at his shows, and tonight is no exception - three in the front row. Stammering is a recognised disability in Ireland, where Greene is from, because of the profound impact it can have on people's lives. His stand-up set covers his overwhelming desire as a young man to fall in love and the many ways his stammer has got in the way.

The dramatic crisis comes when he begins to doubt that he is the hero of his own story. What if he's just somebody else's awkward and ill-fitting sidekick? He says that he tried to reject his stammer mentally at this point in his life, only to realise it was so much a part of his identity that it was impossible. In his head, he made a long and impassioned speech to persuade his stammer to come back to him, and in so doing, has come to love his stammer. Naturally this means he isn't 'cured' and never will be, but he stammers less now and finds it easier to acknowledge and even laugh about it. And his own ease with his stammer helps to relax the audience so that we can laugh along with him, too.

- Michael Regnier


Links relevant to this diagnosis:

(500) Days of Stammer - Aidan Greene

What Is Stammering? - Action for Stammering Children

What Is Speech and Language Therapy? - Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists

So You Want to Write... A Romantic Comedy - TV Tropes

How My Stutter Improves My Dating Life - Washington Post

An Oscar-Winning Short Film About Stuttering and Love - The New Yorker