Tag Archives: Lost Voice Guy

“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.

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.”


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.”


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.”


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.”


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.”


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.”