not only non-stop hilarity, but, a way to a better life
Fellow of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
Award Winning Comedian...
and recovered incontinent.
Elaine Miller is a pelvic physiotherapist - she is passionate about pelvic floors and most of her clinic days are spent elbow deep in leaky ladies.
Gusset Grippers was written by Elaine in a fit of temper because so many people with troubles “down below” do not seek help. “People think leaking is an inevitable consequence of ageing or parenthood, and that’s just not true” says Elaine. “Making people laugh about something embarrassing means they will talk about it, and talking is kryptonite to taboos”.
"The problem is not that women leak, the problem is that they don't know help is available" she says "so, I did the obvious thing and combined my hobby of stand up with work - and wrote a show that tells women what I'd tell them in clinic.
Gusset Grippers is frank, factual and funny - you leave knowing what a pelvic floor is, what it does, why having a good one is smashing, and where to take yours if it is a bit wonky. There is a prolapse chicken, a clitoris puppet, and a sparkly, surprising grand finale with a 5’4” singing vulva. What there is NOT is audience participation - no one is asked to share personal information “incontinence is embarrassing, people really don’t want to talk about this stuff in public”.
The show has been well received by audiences, critics and health care professionals alike in the UK, with sell out runs and 5* reviews at Edinburgh Fringe and 2019's tour of Australia. Elaine debuted at World Fringe in Perth, where she won the prestigious Comedy Award, before sell out shows in Melbourne and at Adelaide Fringe.
Elaine’s reach from social media, radio, podcasts and TV means that over 590 million people have heard her message of #LaughDontLeak - which is just one of the reasons she was awarded a Fellowship by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.
There is a serious side to this - huge public health issue which costs Australia $43billion pa (not a typo, nor a joke). Most importantly, sexual function relies on pelvic floor muscles - seeing Gusset Grippers could improve the audiences orgasms. “That’s the sciencey bit that adults of all ages, races, orientations, genders and both sexes seem quite interested in” says Elaine.
Elaine specialised in pelvic health after having three giant-headed babies in four years. “I quite quickly became fascinated by the science of continence and the wonders of the pelvic floor after my babies were born”, adding “I’m fine now, by the way, my vagina is the only bit of me that is buff. Physio really does work”.
Elaine launched a petition in August ’19 asking for a baby vest with “do your pelvic floor exercises, Mummy” to be included in the Scottish Baby Box scheme has reached the next stage of consultation. “No new mum is going to want to use that clothing on her newborn. Once the baby pukes on everything else it will land up in her laundry, and remind her that leaking is #commonnotnormal and that help is available. It is an inexpensive and direct nudge”.
Gusset Grippers now part of a research project in collaboration with Monash University in Melbourne. “I have anecdotal evidence that the show works, that humour can be used as a health promotion tool, but, without a published, peer reviewed paper in order that is just opinion. I need evidence in order to create change and break down the taboos which prevent help seeking”. As far as we can tell, no one has used a Fringe show for research before. The aim is to tour in Australia in Spring 2021 and gather data on the audience to establish the true prevalence of leaking and whether the show encourages help seeking.
If Elaine can prove that humour influences behaviour then she would hope to challenge funding bodies’ perception that comedy is not part of The Arts in the way that theatre, dance or spoken word are, and her hope is to run an irreverent awareness campaign about pelvic health.
As Gusset Grippers is evidence based it counts as CPD for healthcare professionals, which is a nice bonus.
This show is niche, but, it’s a massive niche.
Elaine is a founding member of Pelvic Roar, physio led multidisciplinary collaboration to promote evidence based pelvic health, and a Social Enterprise which aims to use humour to educate and support women who's lives are limited by leaking.
Elaine is currently on secondment from clinic and working on the research, her book, podcast and pantomime.