Edinburgh, the Fringe, why bother?
I love coming to the fringe! On the whole Edinburgh has been good to me over the years, as it’s enabled me to make a name for myself without playing lots of comedy clubs which are mostly inaccessible to comedians who use wheelchairs. Edinburgh punters are fantastic as you get a discerning comedy audience who are not afraid to try new things.
What have been the nuggets of inspiration behind your show this year?
This year’s show is about how I live my day-to-day life as someone with cerebral palsy who has to rely on other people to help me with things like dressing and shaving. I talk about what it means to me to live independently. However along the way it covers my 8 week stint in Scottish physical dance theatre (not an obvious career choice for a wheelchair user!), being impersonated by Daniel Radcliffe and what to do when 500 incontinence pads get mistakenly left on your doorstep!
For a long time now I’ve really wanted to make a show about what it’s like to go through life relying on others to do personal tasks for you. Oops, as I typed that last sentence and read it back I realised how dodgy it sounds! I mean the kind of things I can’t do for myself. When I came up with the title ‘Independence’ back in January I had no idea just how topical it would be at the moment! There is a bit of politics in the show, but mostly I think this show is very personal to me. I’m probably the only comedian on the fringe who could deliver this material.
Stand-out Fringe moment to date?
Definitely when my mate Jess Thom came to watch my show. Jess is a performer with Tourette’s syndrome and, frankly one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. The majority of her tics make her say words like ‘biscuit’, ‘hedgehog’ and ‘Alan’ a lot, but every so often she will come up with the kind of surreal juxtaposition of two completely unrelated concepts that comedy writers like myself spend hours scratching our heads over. At the top of the show I introduced Jess to the audience. Then as I got into the show I found it quite easy to ignore the constant biscuits, hedgehogs and Alans. But every so often when I paused for breath, Jess would finish my sentences in surreally funny ways that other stand-up comedians could only dream of. For example, “I guess all I’ve ever wanted is what anyone wants in life, namely… dancing cats!” And then there was my personal favourite: “If you start to think about your moments of instant regret, one defining incident will probably leap out… like kicking a duck in the fanny!
When you wished a hole had opened up in the ground and swallowed you up?
I was once in the finals of the Amused Moose Edinburgh Comedy Awards. Because the stage wasn’t wheelchair accessible, it was agreed that I would get lifted onto it before the audience came in and would then simply hide behind the back curtain until it was my turn to go on. Unfortunately nobody told the compere that he had to let me out after introducing me, and because there was a large projector screen in front of the curtain I could let myself out without knocking it over. So after I was introduced there was an uncomfortable 30 seconds of silence before the technician realised what had happened and ran over to let me out.
Your unsung heroes in the industry at current?
I think that would have to be me! I’d like to be sung every once in a while.
Three shows you must see this Fringe?
Lost Voice Guy, Seymour Mace and Andrew Doyle
The one person you’d love to see your show and why?
I’m looking forward with baited breath for my wife to see my show, as quite a lot of it is about our relationship. Stand-up comedy can be a dangerous profession when it comes to your marriage!
The reason why one should come and see your show?
It will make you laugh cry and leave seeing the world in a different light. Not bad for a tenner a ticket! (Or even less in the week)
The one thing in Edinburgh you must do?
Have dinner at Amerone.
Laurence Clarks – ‘Independence’ at the Assembly George Square Gardens at The Box