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Laurence Clark came to St Helens and entertainment a packed Citadel Theatre with his critically-acclaimed comedy show, Independence in February 2017.
Everybody seems to want their independence right now – but be very careful what you wish for! Laurence spins his tales of adolescence, love and Harry Potter, discovering he doesn’t have to be Superman and do everything. But life sometimes throws up the unexpected when you depend on someone else to fasten your jeans for you.
Heart of Glass chatted to Laurence about his comedy and the new show.
I’m a stand-up comedian who happens to have cerebral palsy. My comedy thrives on breaking taboos. Disability still seems to be considered a taboo which is why you get so many comics doing material about it.
But because I’m disabled I think sometimes there’s a preconception that my act is going to be worthy in some way and not particularly funny.
Sometimes people say to me “you don’t do comedy about disability do you?” as if they think it’s going to be really depressing. However, no one would dream of telling a Chris Rock to not do material about being Black.
All stand-up comics use aspects of themselves and their experiences to create material and I don’t see why disabled comics should be any different. So I tend to use uncomfortable, socially awkward past experiences as inspiration – it’s very cathartic! Oh yes, and funny! Very, very funny!
I really wanted to write comedy for a long time and was sending off scripts to the BBC and getting nowhere. I loved stand-up comedy and really wanted to give it a go but couldn’t see how someone like me could pull it off. Then I saw a show the comedian Dave Gorman use PowerPoint slides and was completely blown away. He made me realise that stand-up doesn’t have to be just one person standing on a stage talking to an audience for an hour. All my life I’d had stuff to say and a dark sense of humour which I’d inflict on those around me. Suddenly this gave me an outlet, an entry point into the mainstream. My wife was also glad as now she wasn’t the only one expected to laugh at my jokes!
Tell us about the show?
This 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’ a year ago I had no idea just how topical it would be after Brexit! 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 who could deliver this material.