Canadian comic Dion Arnold introduces his first international Fringe show by stating he’ll be delivering something slightly different from stand-up.
Instead Arnold tells the story of his beloved grandmother (or Geams as he likes to call her) and her eventual choice to opt in for the M.A.I.D. Program (Medical Assistance In Dying).
Behind him is a screen showing Arnold’s grandmother and her new celebrity roommate in the afterlife: Tupac.
Arnold then takes us back and tells us what this powerful woman achieved in her lifetime: from raising six children to kicking ass at bridge.
Ultimately, we’re brought to where the bulk of the story lies, in hospital with his grandmother’s final wishes.
We hear how the family reacts and his grandmother’s pitch-black humour before the time comes.
That humour has clearly been passed down through the family. Arnold’s timing is perfect and keeps the audience reeled in and laughing so much of the time.
Occasionally, Arnold can get caught up in his delivery or an odd joke won’t quite hit, but these are minor criticisms in a show as cathartic and compelling as My Grandmother’s M.A.I.D.
The power of this story is that it’s both deeply personal for Arnold but also instantly relatable for each individual audience member.
Almost everybody has a senior person in their lives who they’ll think of during the show and then they may even consider their own eventual passing. Most of us, given the situation, would also appreciate the benefit of choice.
Ultimately that’s exactly what this show is: the celebration of choice when it matters most. And it is a celebration.
While the subject matter is heavy the show remains profoundly funny throughout. No matter what side of the fence you sit, Dion Arnold’s story is essential listening.