While all of this was happening, on the internet and in the media, he was a relentless jester — hilariously self-deprecating on Instagram and, later, TikTok. (“In the U.K. it’s like, This [expletive] guy again,” Capaldi said of his musical success there, whereas in the United States, “There are people here who just know the TikTok.”)
Capaldi has had umpteen small moments in which his comedic persona has been as loud as his songs. At the Grammys in 2020, he had an Andy Kaufmanesque face-off on the red carpet with an unsuspecting Ryan Seacrest.
“I was throwing a baseball at a brick wall, so there was no recoil,” Capaldi said of the appealingly peculiar interaction, adding that he’d been enjoying the fruits of Grammy weekend partying. “It was like, oh, this is so bizarre. But then in my head I’m like, this is even funnier.”
All the while, his health was precarious. Last year, he announced that he’d been given a diagnosis of Tourette’s syndrome — for Capaldi, it manifests in physical tics that arrive at random and can be made worse by stress. Sometimes, they happen when he’s onstage — at one recent concert, the crowd finished the songs that he couldn’t. But the tics subside when he’s at ease: When fans came up to him outside the Ear Inn to chat, they all but disappeared.
“This sounds gross, but it’s become part of like a marketing strategy,” he said. “Every piece of content or thing I see with my name next to it is closely followed by Tourette’s. Which is mental, ’cause then I’m like, Billie Eilish has Tourette’s, and she doesn’t bang on about it like I do.”
He continued, “It feels dirty. It feels odd.” Then he added with a laugh, “Whatever sells the records!”