Lots of laughter with Laurence Clark

3:38pm Thursday 2nd May 2013

COMEDIAN Laurence Clark is often called inspirational by others. But the 39-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, says he is simply performing everyday tasks and doing what he has always wanted to do — making people laugh as a stand-up comic.

The father-of-two is bringing his darkly funny show, Inspired, to the Octagon Theatre, Bolton, on Saturday, May 11.

He said: “I was doing a PhD, working in a lab in a uni, just working at a computer all day, not really talking to many people.

“I got more and more depressed until I just thought I will try to do what I want to do.

“At first I did it as a hobby, I wanted to get into writing comedy.

“Doing stand-up, it grew from there. At least you get heard. I’ve been doing it for about 10 years now.

“The show that I’m doing now, I did at the Edinburgh Fringe last year.”

After a sell-out run in Edinburgh, the show, which sees Laurence flip the idea of what is inspirational on its head, has hit the road.

He said: “It was sponsored by the Cultural Olympiad, so I did a lot of dates last summer, mainly around London and Edinburgh.

“The reviews were really good.”

In 2012, he featured in the BBC1 documentary We Won’t Drop the Baby, which featured Laurence and his wife, Adele, who also has cerebral palsy.

Seven years ago, when they had a baby boy, Tom, they were criticised by doctors for being irresponsible as Laurence is wheelchair-bound and Adele heavily dependent on her crutches.

For six months, the cameras followed Laurence, Tom and Adele in a film that laid bare the joys and hurdles of disabled parenting.

Laurence said being called inspirational “is my pet hate”.

“Whether it’s for being married, doing stand-up or having kids, it just seems like they thought I’d never amount to much,” he said.

“I love to inspire people with my stand-up comedy, but don’t call me inspirational for just getting on with my life.”

The acclaimed presenter, writer and actor, who has previously appeared at The Octagon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, topped Shortlist magazine’s Britain’s 10 Funniest New Comedians, has appeared on BBC’s Newsnight and BBC2 documentary Are You Having A Laugh?

It was after seeing Dave Gorman do a comedy routine using computer presentation programme PowerPoint that he realised a way he could do comedy.

Laurence said: “That inspired me and showed me how someone like myself could do stand-up.

“Cerebral palsy affects the way I talk, I use a wheelchair.

“When I do the show, it’s a mix of stand-up and multi-media, like a video as well.

“It’s much more of a show and an experience, not just watching one person on stage with a microphone.”

Inspired was commissioned by the Unlimited programme, part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, around the themes of the Olympics, inspiring others and inspire a generation.

Laurence was the only stand-up comedian to have been commissioned by the Cultural Olympiad programme.

He said: “I didn’t really see a lot of it (Olympics and Paralympics) because I was at the Edinburgh Fringe and I worked every day there for four weeks. But what I saw was great.

“In the UK, it did a lot to raise the profile of disabled people. It was used to highlight some of the discrimination that we encounter.

“The problems are caused by other people’s perceptions really.

“I’m quite happy that way I am. I like the way I am. It’s just other people’s attitudes that get in the way.”

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