Tag Archives: comedy

Have a laugh this Father’s Day

With Father’s Day just a couple of weeks away, we have the perfect way to treat your dad with this year’s Pun Run Charity Special which is raising funds in aid of Scope. An evening of fun and laughter, the Southbank event will feature some top-rated comedians including Lost Voice Guy, Andy Zaltzman, Felicity Ward and many more, all in the name of charity.

Below we caught up with Bec Hill, founder of Pun Run, who told us a little more about the event, what the audience can expect and why the organisers chose Scope as their charity to support this year.

Can you tell us a bit about Pun Run? How long has it been going on?

Pun Run started in 2011. It was supposed to be a one-off show where myself and other comics could purge all of their pun-based material which never worked in normal comedy clubs. But then the show sold out and I was inundated with requests by audience members wanting another one and comedians wanting a spot. I’ve been putting on Pun Runs throughout the UK, Ireland and Australia ever since!

What can the audience expect at one of your events?

The clue is in the name. We love wordplay and actively encourage it. I found that often, if you’re at a normal comedy club and a comedian does a pun, it doesn’t get the love it deserves. But if you are in a big room full of people who want to hear puns, there is a comradery everyone has. The atmosphere becomes giddy. Our motto is, “A groan is as good as a laugh!”

Why have you chosen to host your next Pun Run in aid of Scope?

We’ve been putting on special Pun Runs in aid of Scope once a year since 2012. We usually do it in Edinburgh, during the Fringe, but due to other commitments, it made more sense to hold it in London this year, at the Udderbelly on Southbank. The co-creator of Pun Run, Gavin Innes, is the brother of ex-Paralympian Caroline Baird. He mentioned how supportive Scope had been with her Cerebral Palsy throughout her life and we thought it was important to show some support in return.

As Scope continues to exist to make this country a place where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else, the visibility of disabled ambassadors in the public eye is of great importance as we work towards this objective.

Scope supporter and one of Pun Run’s comedians for this year’s charity special, Lost Voice Guy believes that “the visibility of disabled comedians has improved over the last few years. A lot of this being down to programmes such as The Last Leg and the last Paralympics which raised the profile of disability issues within mainstream media.”

He also adds that “most people’s perceptions of disabled people have changed because of media developments and they don’t feel as awkward any more. I think that has helped disabled comedians a lot. There’s still a long way to go though. It might help if every comedy club wasn’t so inaccessible!”

The Pun Run Charity special is on 19 June at the Southbank Centre, London. Book your place on the Pun Run Charity special today!

“Seriously, can you really not talk at all?” – Lost Voice Guy on #EndtheAwkward

Lost Voice Guy, aka Lee Ridley, is a stand-up comedian who uses a communication aid. This month, he’s turned some of the awkward questions he gets asked about his impairment into a show at the Edinburgh Fringe, Disability for Dunces. We caught up with him between performances…

Why did you get involved with End the Awkward?

Lee performing onstage using his iPad
Photo – Subtle Sensor Photography

I suppose I’ve just always felt close to Scope because of my cerebral palsy. I really liked End the Awkward last year, so thought this was a good opportunity to get more involved. I liked the fact that it didn’t take itself too seriously, while also having a serious message to give out.

Do you encounter a lot of awkwardness yourself?

I would say so, yes. I’ve just got used to it really. Funnily enough, it makes for good material when it happens, so I don’t mind it as much these days. People sometimes ask me after a gig if I can actually talk!

In fact, I can give you a few examples straight from my show of things people have asked me:

  • Can you really not talk at all?
  • Have you ever considered an exorcism?
  • Can you have sex?
  • Are you as clever as Stephen Hawking?
  • Can you go to the toilet on your own?

Where do you think that awkwardness comes from?

I think some awkwardness is just natural. But people just aren’t as educated about disabled people as we would like them to be, which is why this campaign helps. Also, people worry too much about saying or doing the wrong thing. If you just enjoy the company of the disabled person instead of worrying, you’ll learn so much more about issues surrounding disabled people.

Tell us a bit about the show – what would you like audiences to take away from it?

Basically, I’ve decided to answer all the stupid questions that I’ve ever been asked about disability. I’m even inviting the public to submit further questions to me if they are curious about anything, and if it’s good enough, I’ll put it in the show. It’s just a bit of fun really, but I guess I’d like to make people think a bit more before opening their mouths. It’s fun to play with people’s perceptions, and I think it helps take away some of the stigma from disability.

Lee performing onstage
Photo – Caroline Briggs

Finally, one of the biggest areas for awkwardness seems to be dating – like in the first date video we’ve produced with Channel 4. Have you got any awkward dating stories?

I have gone on a few dates with girls who have come to watch my comedy, and one date sticks in my mind. First dates are always awkward, but this one actually went really well. The awkward part came the next day when she sent me a list of doctors who she thought could ‘fix’ me. Those were her exact words. Needless to say, we didn’t have a second date – instead, I sent her a list of doctors who could do brain transplants.

Lost Voice Guy is performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until 30 August. There’s also a fully accessible performance on Monday, August 24.

Do you have any awkward stories about disability? Let us know, and we’ll share our favourites during the campaign.

That Awkward Moment

A new romcom ‘That Awkward Moment’ has got us thinking about disability and awkwardness.

On the Scope blog we regularly hear from disabled people about attitudes to disability.

It can be serious. 

But more often than not it’s what you could call innocent ignorance.

And the results can be comedy gold.

Nothing beats Adam Hill’s line from the opening show of The Last Leg.

“I had someone ask me, when I said I had an artificial right leg: ‘Can you still have sex?’ Yeeeeeaah?! What does your husband do? Take a run up?”

Here are some bloggers on their favourite awkward moments.

Blogger Wheeler Wife lists some of her favourite Awkward Wheelchair Moments.

“Passing people in the hallway who plaster themselves to the wall in an attempt to let you pass by. Just last week a 250+ pound construction worker dropped what he was working on and assumed a body search position against one wall with arms and legs outstretched, panicking that he had not created enough space for me to get by. “Oh, you’re ok, I can get by,” I replied.”

We also like this post about a train journey from Danny Housley, the Social Media Coordinator for disABILITY LINK.

“I’m sitting by the door, getting ready to head to an National Federation of the Blind meeting and these people across the aisle from me are staring, and I mean staring hard. I’m pretty sure they were looking so hard that my face was almost bruised.  Anyway, the mother/guardian of these people (they were mid to late teens) leans in and whispers for them to stop looking.  They didn’t. Instead, they start waving and making faces, at which point I lean over and say: “It’s gonna freeze like that.” They looked horrified and the mother nearly fell out of her seat laughing (and then immediately turned on them for a scolding).”

Finally, it’s not real, obviously, but we thought we’d also stick in Francesca Martinez’s appearance in Extras…the whole episode is one big awkward moment.

This year we’re going to be launching a new bid to make people think differently about disability – we think we need to start talking about why these moments become so awkward.

To kick things off, we want to hear your awkward disability moments. Let us know below:

Will comedy be the next Paralympics?

Guest post from comedian Francesca Martinez

Congratulations to Jack Carroll, the very talented young comedian in the final of Britain’s Got Talent 2013. The audience loved him and so did the judges – David Walliams described him as the next Peter Kay. Jack is funny and likeable. He also happens to have cerebral palsy. He ended his set with a quip about donating to the disability charity Scope – then gave himself £20 to cut out the middle man!

I bet Jack’s jokes have also helped a few people think differently about what it means to be disabled. Like me, Jack uses humour to challenge attitudes to disability, much in the way that Britain’s Paralympians did with their amazing achievements last summer. A year on from the games, it’s got me thinking: could comedy be 2013’s Paralympics?

As a child growing up wobbly (I prefer the term to ‘cerebral palsy’), I used humour to disarm bullies and to deflect people’s pity. I thought that if I was cheeky or funny, people would respect me. I loved saying the things everybody thought but nobody dared to say.

Fifteen years later, when I discovered comedy, it was a revelation. I’d found something which let me stand in front of people and challenge their prejudices and stereotypes. So if the audience feels sorry for me when I walk out on stage because I’m wobbly, I use humour to question why. By the time I walk off, I want them to see the person behind the wobbles.

A lot of my material questions the lazy thinking behind what’s seen as different and as normal. I think disability is normal – it has always existed. It’s not abnormal because it’s part of life. Of course it brings struggles, but many of those struggles come from society’s inability to deal with difference.

Comedy lets us tackle ‘difficult’ subjects in a light-hearted way. It lets you by-pass the discomfort that bubbles up when people worry too much about what to say. I try to turn people’s fears into jokes, because I find that people are more receptive if you make them laugh. And, do you know what? Disability can be funny! Some people think I’m talking about an issue, but I just talk about my life, which is what every comic does.

It’s a difficult time for everyone right now, including disabled people. Attitudes towards disabled people and the ‘vulnerable’ have worsened. We need the power of comedy now, more than ever. If I can say things that need saying and change attitudes for the better, it gives a deeper meaning to the job I love.

It’s wonderful to see Jack Carroll doing so well and I hope he has a great future ahead of him. The more that difference is represented in the media, the more people will accept it as a natural and invigorating part of life. But Jack and I are not the only ones using laughter to change the way people think: there’s a host of great disabled comedians out there. My friends at Scope, who work to remove barriers so that disabled people can lead full and productive lives, have collected some clips .

Disability and comedy

Young comedian Jack Carroll has made it through to the final of Britain’s Got Talent 2013. First and foremost Jack had the audience in stitches. Judge David Walliams called him “the new Peter Kay”.

But Jack also happens to have Cerebral Palsy, and it’s a good bet that his routine has helped a few people think differently about disability.

Jack joins a growing number of disabled comedians using humour to challenge attitudes to disability and make this a better place for disabled people…much in the way Britain’s Paralympians did with their amazing achievements last year.

So we thought we’d give you a taste of some of these great acts…

Francesca Martinez

“I think humour is a fundamental human right. It’s a big part of the way I handle my difference. If the audience feels sorry for me when I walk out on stage because I’m wobbly, I use humour to question why. By the time I walk off, I want them to see the person beyond the wobbles.”

http://www.scope.org.uk/news/disability-2012/stories/francesca-martinez

Adam Hill

“With comedy and disability people go, ‘Ooh, where’s the line?’ There is no line – if you’re celebrating, then you won’t say the wrong thing. As long as it comes from the place of going ‘This is great’. And it is, it’s an amazing sporting event. I think because everyone behind the show loves the Paralympics, we get it, we’ve seen a lot of Paralympic sports and we’ve all gone beyond that [he puts on an insipid voice], ‘Oh isn’t this inspiring’ and instead gone, ‘This guy’s awesome. It’s about the sport really.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2012/aug/24/adam-hills-comedian-disability-tv-paralympics#ixzz2UfoDwQDA

Laurence Clark

“I was sick and tired of going to comedy clubs and listening to comedians who used disabled people as the butt of their jokes, so I decided to redress the balance and have a go myself.”

http://www.insidecomedy.co.uk/default.php?action=article&controller=site&type=4&id=81

Lost Voice Guy

“I want to show that there’s a funny side to disability too and that people are allowed to have a sense of humour about it. I’d rather people talked about it than pretend it didn’t exist. It’s a big part of my routine but I wouldn’t want to focus on it forever, it’s just that I’ve got so many stories to tell about it.”

http://thedailychuckleonline.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/lost-voice-guy-man-who-spoke-to-us-all.html

Liz Carr

“I think disability is the last bastion of political correctness, and people need to see that disabled people are funny, you know, our lives are quite fascinating and there’s a lot that people can learn from that.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2006/jun/21/disability.socialcare

Steve Day

“Once any initial reluctance on the part of the audience to laugh at disability is overcome, it provides, I think, an interesting perspective. There still is that resistance though, sometimes, every now and again an audience simply won’t have it. Two things have happened though, I’ve got funnier, and attitudes have changed, albeit slowly, since the early days. The Paralympics have also been a big help in making disability seem less scary and taboo, there is less reluctance to laugh.”

http://www.zug4you.ch/interview_with_steve_day___english_stand_up_comedian.html

Jack Carroll and Britain’s Got Talent

Jack Carroll has made it through to the final of Britain’s Got Talent 2013. He mentioned Scope in his routine. Congratulations Jack and thanks for the mention!

Here’s some of the feedback from Twitter:

http://twitter.com/holtyliam/status/339468169041301504

http://twitter.com/TheCureheads/status/339471736322027520