Some nurses have a pre-shift ritual to deal with anxiety, according to comedian Blake Lynch, who performs as Nurse Blake. “We call it a ‘PSP,’ a pre-shift-poop,” he says. In response to his own stage fright, “I have a ‘pre-show poop,’” Lynch adds.
Around 2017, Lynch was a registered trauma nurse in Florida. When the trauma ward became too much for him — think intensive care unit: car accidents and falls in the elderly — Lynch posted dark, funny videos on social media, offering an insider point of view on the nursing profession.
“I had a panic attack” before a shift, Lynch tells Eugene Weekly in a phone call from a tour stop in San Diego. “Trauma nurses are such a mess.”
The videos he made using the name Nurse Blake were a form of stress relief, but also a way to connect with other nurses. They caught on, and Nurse Blake began touring nursing colleges. Those engagements grew, and Nurse Blake now performs internationally. Lynch’s latest, the Shock Advised tour, offers all new material and stops by the Hult Center Wednesday, August 23.
According to Lynch, his latest stuff is some of his edgiest. While still working as a nurse — Lynch maintains his Florida nursing credentials — what he could say was somewhat dictated by the hospital he worked for.
“As nurses we’re told to be professional — follow the rules, you can’t speak up,” Lynch explains. “Hospitals tell us what to do. You never see nurses giving statements in news articles. HR at hospitals would be all over you. When I first started, I was still working at a hospital, so being a performer and putting things online — if my hospital found out, I wasn’t doing anything too edgy.”
But nurses have the darkest sense of humor, “some of the best humor,” he says. “Luckily, right now I’m not tied to a hospital or a facility, I can say what I want to say and exactly how I feel. So, in that sense, it’s more edgy.”
Subjects covered in the new material include the recent Florida nursing school scandal in which thousands of fraudulent nursing diplomas were uncovered. Health care aside, Lynch delves into personal topics, too, like his experience in gay-conversion therapy as a young teen, which he relates to an incident of discrimination at a patient’s bedside. He also discusses a recent divorce from his husband of six years, the end of a 12-year relationship.
For these reasons, Nurse Blake is not just for health care workers, Lynch says. “I prefer when I have audience members who are not in health care,” he adds, “because I’m able to pick on them and use them as examples throughout the show.”
As a performer, Lynch leans on improv, with multimedia aspects like video and audio. Last year, he released a children’s book, I Want to Be a Nurse When I Grow Up, and he hosts NurseCon, an annual cruise ship nursing conference.
“I never got into nursing to do comedy,” Lynch admits, but he hopes his work as a comedian helps nurses and health care professionals feel less alone. “The show is all about nurses of all different ages and backgrounds getting together to laugh.”