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Steve N Allen: Alzheimer’s? I Can’t Even Remember How To Spell It

Alzheimer’s disease is a rather odd topic to choose as the basis for a comedy hour, though Steve N Allen has good reason to talk about it – his late father had dementia. While some symptoms of dementia are common amongst those who have it, there were, believe it or not, some benefits for the relationship between Steve and his father, primarily because his dad had the reserved stiff upper lip manner about him, but gradually opened up. The older Allen had a previously undiscovered mischievous streak, which manifested itself even in his very final hours.

Steve N Allen. Photo by Steve Ullathorne.
Steve N Allen. Photo by Steve Ullathorne.

This isn’t, I hasten to add, an entire hour about Alzheimer’s. It was difficult not to mention That Pandemic, if only because he lost both his parents while it was happening, and on the night I attended, a number of motion picture references were run past a younger member of the audience – who happened to have seen most of the films being spoken about.

Keeping multiple generations on board had a point, in the sense that Allen is now a father himself, and also his concerns about whether he will either develop Alzheimer’s himself and/or have passed it on to his child. A quick Google search reveals that the Alzheimer’s Society believes, “in the vast majority of cases (more than 99 in 100), Alzheimer’s disease is not inherited”. Allen, although he doesn’t say so in so many words, would still assert that it is nonetheless a possibility.

The show’s title reminds me of the old punchline about who came up with the word ‘dyslexia’, not the easiest of words to spell. Spotting your reviewer sat in the audience wearing glasses, Allen pointed out his past history with spectacles, which came to an end when he had laser eye surgery, with unintended but nonetheless hilarious consequences. Overall, a relaxed and assured performance – I got the feeling that despite Allen’s anxieties, he’s going to be just fine.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Dementia isn’t a laughing matter, but neither is the loss of both your parents during the pandemic and the tricky birth of your first child. And yet, somehow, that’s what Steve N Allen has to play with and discusses in this show. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s has its funny moments, which some people feel bad talking about… But it’s important to highlight that there are many lighter moments against the darkness.


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