I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Dan LaMorte just days before embarking on his first US tour, which kicked off last Wednesday in NYC with special guests Jerry Seinfeld and Jim Gaffigan. Dan LaMorte’s tweets (@DanLaMorte) have gained in popularity among his 44K+ followers, as Dan’s down-to-earth commentary about being in your early 20s is hilariously relatable.
His tweets, such as the one below, have also gained the attention of the celiac and gluten free community, as Dan was diagnosed with celiac disease in November of last year.
We swapped diagnosis stories and discussed the impact of celiac on Dan's life on the road and his on-stage persona. What is most impressive about Dan is his ability to add humor to life with celiac without diminishing the gravity and impact of the disease on his life and many others. He’s also quickly embraced the necessary adjustments to his on-the-go life in order to accommodate his new diagnosis.
Dan described his diagnosis with celiac last November as the culmination of months battling some of the “classic” symptoms: “When you google celiac and the first thing that pops up is that person hunched over in stomach pain, that was me.” Dan also recounted challenges with obesity and liver issues, which doctors initially, but incorrectly, attributed to alcohol. With the eventual diagnosis by his uncle, a gastroenterologist, a gluten free diet quickly brought on symptomatic relief, a healthier relationship with food, and significant weight loss. “I saw improvements relatively quickly. My energy got better and I noticed I wasn’t feeling as foggy. Once I began getting my energy back, I started working out and said, ‘This is perfect. I like how I’m feeling.’”
As a comic, Dan’s positive attitude about his diagnosis is not surprising. But, like many with celiac, the process was not 100% easy. “The immediate thought [of going gluten free] was scary… I was in my head about how impossible it would be. I wasn’t sure how I’d pull it off. But you learn. It’s not the hardest and the world isn’t working against us. Over time I learned to enjoy it a little bit more and to not be so cynical about it.”
Touring on a Gluten Free Diet
Of course, celiac can be hard to manage when you’re frequently traveling without access to a kitchen and spending hours in bars and clubs. When asked about the hardest part of being a gluten free comic, Dan replied: “Not eating!!” This tour will be Dan’s longest time on the road since his diagnosis, but he’s quickly learned some of the key tips and tricks to being gluten free while frequently on-the-move. “You have to get used to packing your own food because you can be out for 4+ hours and sometimes you can’t trust places. I read reviews on Find Me Gluten Free and will buy stuff at the supermarket. It’s easy to get beef jerky and other on-the-go snacks… and I’m excited to bring my food from Packed. by Sarah with me!”
An Evolving Comedic Style
The diagnosis has done more than just affect his diet and lifestyle. Dan quickly shed over 100 pounds, completely altering his physical appearance, which Dan stated is pretty integral to a comic’s relationship with the stage and an audience. “My comedy is definitely still changing. I spent the first few years [in the business] as a heavyweight comic. While it wasn’t the majority of my material, I did relate to the crowd with my weight. But now, there's something less funny about being healthy. You have to find ways to put yourself down with the jokes.”
The need to explain the nuances of celiac has also been a hurdle in integrating celiac and gluten free jokes into his routines: “Part of what makes a joke is you don’t have to explain it much. You want short jokes with a gist. People’s lack of awareness of celiac can be tough. I’m still sorting through how to use it up there on stage, but it’s fun to see what works and doesn’t work.” This, in particular, is a challenge many patients face, as we often have a short amount of time to make a critical point or message about our diagnoses.
Luckily for Dan, his family has been extremely supportive throughout the diagnosis. His mother and father make gluten free food at home. Though, we both commiserated over the struggles having Italian roots with a celiac diagnosis, “It’s hard to be a celiac Italian. It’s lower on the totem pole than owning an Olive Garden.” (At this point, it was clear Dan wouldn’t have that much difficulty writing celiac quips)
Dan’s tour, Infect me Once, began Wednesday, September 4 in New York at the Gotham Comedy Club and will take him to 24 additional cities through mid-October. We are thrilled that Dan agreed to kick off our Limitless Life Profile Series and share his unique perspective on the impact of a celiac diagnosis. Less than one year into his disease, he’s pushing past the frustrations and living a truly limitless life.
Tickets to Dan’s shows can be purchased on his website at www.danlamorte.com/tour. 18+ audience recommended.
Stay tuned for an announcement about who will be featured in next month’s Limitless Life Profile!