Comedian Rhod Gilbert's got a secret: he’s painfully shy, and it’s no joke. After a lifetime of social anxiety, can he finally come to terms with his shyness; and help others to do the same?
Comedian Rhod Gilbert can stand up in front of twenty thousand people and make them laugh for two hours solid without breaking sweat. But stick him in a room on his own with one of his fans and he’ll start perspiring, stare at the ground, and find it extremely difficult and uncomfortable to strike up a conversation. That’s because off-stage, Rhod is painfully shy; and dealing with it is no joke.
Rhod is so shy he won’t go into a coffee shop and order a cup. When he is on tour he’s often gone the whole day without eating because he is too shy to order a sandwich. When he was at university he slept rough outdoors rather than have to mix with his fellow students in dorms; and when he first met his wife Sian, he locked himself in a public toilet rather than talk to her.
As you can tell, Rhod’s got a problem. It’s been a life-limiting condition since childhood. But now Rhod is sick of it, and as he reaches his 50th birthday he’s decided he wants to do something about it. So in this revealing and thought-provoking documentary, Rhod is seeking a cure for his embarrassing embarrassment. He’s going to be poked and prodded by scientists and psychoanalysts to try and get to the core of his shyness, and to work out what he can do to overcome it. He’ll meet fellow shysters at the London Shyness Social Group; he’ll do yoga with tiny shysters as young as five; and he’ll meet up with friend and fellow comedian Greg Davies to compare notes – because yes, Greg is also shy.
Rhod discovers that he is far from alone. It is estimated that nearly half of the world’s population have some manifestation of shyness and social anxiety. For many it is a minor irritation, for some it is a condition that can virtually destroy a life.
So Rhod tries to understand exactly what made him so shy, how it can be identified and, most crucially, what can be done to reduce its impact. He undergoes a brain scan to see if you can actually map shyness, and in a unique experiment he meets up with three excruciatingly shy young people and challenges them to face their demons by doing stand-up in front of an expectant audience. Well it kind of works for Rhod, so why can’t it work for them?