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Laurence Clark: Spastic Fantastic!
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Laurence Clark: Spastic Fantastic!
Laurence Clark explores the meaning of disability in a way only he can, reclaiming the word 'spastic' through a blend of stand-up routines and hidden camera stunts.
There’s a moment in Laurence Clark’s show when he’s screening a clip of the makeshift boy band he formed with fellow cerebral palsy suffers. It’s a weird experience; being encouraged to laugh at this quartet wailing away out of tune and semi-incomprehensibly. Ha, ha, they can’t even speak properly, let alone sing, the stupid spastics.
But it’s not as uncomfortable as it could be, thanks to his preface. It is, after all, a comedy show. They know they can’t sing, they’re doing it for the joke. And to laugh at them as they laugh at themselves, he believes, is true equality.
This, as with everything this intelligent and challenging comedian does, has a point, possibly several. One of the initial reasons behind this year’s show was to reclaim the word ‘spastic’ for CP sufferers, as black and gay people have reclaimed words once used hatefully at them.
To this end, he’s tracked down a few American products with Spazz in the title, apparently meant unintentionally, such as a bizarre caffeinated lip balm which he market-researches in the street. He clearly thinks the item is hilarious, and liberally employs his biggest asset after his provocative intellect: a cheeky playful grin that lets everyone burdened by political correctness know that it’s OK to laugh.
Clark has as little time for wishy-washy liberals as he does for the likes of Jim Davidson, and he berates the media for obsessing about which polite term to use, rather than getting to the point of what disabled people might have to say.
Much of this year’s show takes up the best theme of last year’s – that just because he’s in a wheelchair doesn’t make him a charity case. He starts with a few minutes’ reprise of this 2007 hidden-camera stunt, in which he rattled a bucket for all manner of inappropriate causes, yet still got donations from guilty passers-by. That idea has been expanded, as he finds new unworthy recipients for charity cash, and still fills the bucket.
David Cameron and supposed ‘disabled role model’ Heather Mills also come in for some well-deserved stick, while his irritation with the superficiality with which disabled issues are treated is fuelled by a review that patronisingly praised him last year for ‘raising awareness’. ‘I thought the point was to be funny,’ he says. And that he certainly is, but there’s always a thought-provoking point behind the laughter.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
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