Abnormally Funny People Paralympic Special- Review
Abnormally Funny People are a troupe of disabled comedians. Their official website describes them as ‘a group of gifted standup comedians strutting their funny stuff.’ Yesterday, 13th September, and today, 14th September, they are doing two special shows at London’s Soho Theatre, to mark the 2016 Paralympics.
I had the pleasure of going to see last night’s show, in which four of the troupe’s members performed standup routines which focused heavily on disability, politics and disability politics.
Steve Day, who is deaf, opened the show. As he said, he thinks he is the only deaf standup comedian on the circuit- and if there are any others, he hasn’t heard! He also mentioned his friend and fellow Abnormally Funny People performer, Chris McCausland, who is blind. He said that he often gets asked if Chris McCausland is any good but he always responds “He’s never seen me and I’ve never heard him!”
Steve Day also talked about how he, along with Boris Johnson, hosted an event to mark the end of the London 2012 Paralympic torch relay. He described how he was asked to do a countdown to the end of the relay for the crowd, but Boris Johnson took this moment over!
Then came Don Biswas, who has dyspraxia and Asperger’s. His dyspraxia, he kept saying, makes him disorganised. His funniest joke was that he gets the refugee crisis, because his dad fled persecution in Asia in the 70s- but “my mum tracked him down!”
Laurence Clark, a wheelchair user with Cerebral Palsy, came next. He talked about his very successful BBC documentary from 2012, We Won’t Drop The Baby. The title, he said “was not my idea, I dropped him loads!” He mentioned his wife, Adele, but made it very clear he didn’t mean the singer! He also talked about his new show, Independence, saying that it has recently become topical- because of Brexit! In a moment that I, as someone with Cerebral Palsy, completely related to, he talked about how he wasted his youth trying to do shoelaces independently. He now has velcro shoes, but still has to waste his time doing buttons!
The final act, Liz Carr, talked more about disability politics and disability benefit cuts than the other acts. She also tried, unsuccessfully, not to mention her role as Clarissa in Silent Witness! She described how after one stand-up comedy show, someone told her about his dead brother who had spina bifida. She had a drink with the audience member and bought his dead brother’s wheelchair “for a song!”
The troupe’s ‘token non-disabled person,’ Steve Best, was around too, but Liz Carr kept shooing him off stage and even called him “brave” in a moment of sarcasm towards how disabled people are usually treated by people without disabilities!
The part of the evening that I, personally, found least funny was the improvisation segment, in which all four acts got together to describe a made up sport.
I spent so much of the evening laughing that the show’s 75 minutes flew by. I barely even noticed that Liz Carr and Laurence Clark performed their stand up comedy routines sitting down!
This is the second Abnormally Funny People show I’ve seen live. I’m already looking forward to seeing another one. I do think the troupe should consider changing their name, though. The first part of it, that is. They are certainly all funny people- but there is nothing abnormal about their comedy.