Tony Gerrard

Tony Gerrard

A professional comedian since 1969, he claims to be the only professional act working from a wheelchair, the result of polio he contracted at the age of four.

He has toured with Bernard Manning and is a regular at working men's clubs and at Jongleurs. He has performed four consecutive summer seasons at Butlins.

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Tony Gerrard – Original Review

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

Tony Gerrard is the sort of comedy dinosaur you might have thought – or at least hoped – was extinct by now, instead of continuing to miserably peddle a relentlessly unpleasant mix of lazy pub-style gags based on tired, horrible stereotypes.

He’s the sort of outdated reactionary turn who moans about ‘political correctness gone mad’ as he frets whether the right term for a black person might be ‘non-reflective’. He loves nothing more than suggesting a bloke is gay and then getting the rest of the audience – or mob – to laugh at the insinuation. Someone else is mocked as ‘bent as fuck, but a lovely bloke’, while another homophonic jibe goes: ‘There are so many gays around now. I’m so glad I’m sitting down.’ There’s a hint of regret, when he says: ‘It’s legal now…’

Well, homosexuality was legalised in 1967, which pretty much dates his act – and his attitudes. There’s another joke about war hero Douglas Bader and another that assumes the death penalty is still in force. The most recent reference, aside from mocking Gareth Gates’s stuttering on Pop Idol, seems to be to David Mellor’s sex scandal, dating from 1992.

There’s some low-level racism thrown in, such as the comedy Arabian accent, but disabilities are the butt of most of his gags, especially easily mockable conditions such as being blind or deaf. Gerrard himself is in a wheelchair, the result of childhood polio, which presumably is taken as a licence for this sort of material.

But it’s only in the rare moments when he turns his comic sights on his own experiences when he can get away with it. His complaints about lack of wheelchair access to the stage or querying the idea of pedal bins in disabled toilets are funny because they rely on more than the broad generalisations that blight so much of his act.

Depressingly, though, he certainly got the laughs from the Jongleurs audience Chortle was in. That brusque, no-nonsense, straight-to-the-punchline delivery, with a well-timed rhythm that comes from decades on stage prove remarkably effective.

But the fact such obnoxious material was rousing the crowd so effectively only makes the nasty taste his act leaves all the more lingering for anyone who had hoped the casual intolerance spread by a certain section of Seventies club comedians had been consigned to the dustbin of history.

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Published: 8 May 2008

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