Comedy act Kade Nightingale and Jeremy Rolston have more than just their stand-up profession in common.

The entertainers put together a show called You, Me & OCD, based on their dual clinical diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for the New Zealand International Comedy Festival.

They first met at the New Zealand College of Performing Arts, Wellington, in 2011 and bonded over their love for Harry Potter books.

“The OCD behaviours are something we’ve both had for as far back as we can remember. I was diagnosed when I was 12, but Jeremy wasn’t diagnosed until more recently,” Kade says.

“I noticed something about some of Jeremy’s habits and suggested he go and get checked out. It turned out he had OCD too.”

Harnessing the positives

Their behaviour elicits a keen interest from people, so they decided to use the situation to develop a show in which their OCD could help them perform.

But, rather than focussing on the negatives, they’ve chosen to highlight a positive view of OCD through comedy, magic and interpretive dance.

“There are a lot of misconceptions that it’s just to do with germs or being clean, but there’s a lot more to it and it’s not all bad – there are benefits,” Kade says.

Jeremy has a superb memory. If you need someone to memorise a randomly shuffled deck of cards in 15 to 20 seconds, Jeremy is your man!

Kade can confidently tell his insurance company he always locks the door when he leaves the house. In fact, by the time he’s done, he’s locked and checked it at least four times.

Increasing understanding of OCD

The duo insist they are not out to simply make a joke about mental health, as OCD can affect anyone at differing levels and it doesn’t make you “weird” or “different” to experience this.

“We both have dealt with OCD throughout our lives and we want to show people what we go through every day so we can increase people’s understanding. It doesn’t always have to be super-hard or a lonely uphill battle,” Kade says.

They’ve had a huge amount of support from their friends and family, and would encourage others experiencing OCD to talk to people they trust, then see their GP.

“We decided to celebrate our OCD in a positive and fun way and the New Zealand International Comedy Festival was a pretty cool platform," Kade says. "People relaxed, laughed and empathised with us along the way.”