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Life less ordinary - Jess Thom, disability superhero

An interview with Jess Thom, Touretteshero, on the Fun London section of the Time Out website. Read the interview online.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Seeing as neither of those traditionally wear Mexican wrestling masks, we’d guess not. But it is a real-life superhero. Meet Jess Thom, the Tourette’s hero who celebrates the humour and creativity of Tourette’s and wants to change the world, one tic at a time.

What’s with the costume?

‘I’m Touretteshero – the world’s first fully fledged Tourette’s superhero.’

What is your superpower?

‘Being able to collide strange, unusual words and ideas to make people laugh.’

Flamboyant swearing, then?

‘Actually, one of the biggest myths about Tourette’s is that it’s the “swearing disease”, when only 10 percent of people who have it do any swearing. I’m far more likely to say “biscuit”, “hedgehog” or “cat-sex pyjamas”. I once went into the local post office and shouted “Hands up!”’

Oh my God! What did they do?

‘Thankfully they knew me, so we all had a laugh about it and no panic buttons got pressed.’

So you never know what you’re going to blurt out.

‘I’m often surprised by the oddness of my tics. You should hear the spontaneous mashed-up Shakespeare I come out with. For example, a while ago, when I was washing up, I suddenly said: “It is the hippies of outrageous fortune that weigh heavy on the minds of dogs.”’

Sounds funny.

‘It is. Touretteshero is about sharing that humour with everyone to challenge misconceptions about Tourette’s. So that’s what I do through my website and my book, “Welcome to Biscuit Land: A Year in the Life of Touretteshero”.’

Read more from Jess at Interview and portrait by Celia Topping

"People need to know that TS is involuntary. We don't need pity, but some will always need help, support and understanding"