Edinburgh Fringe 10x10: Ten disability themed shows | New perspectives

Edinburgh Fringe 10x10: Ten disability themed shows

New perspectives

With stairs absolutely everywhere, Edinburgh is not the most accessible of cities for a major arts festival. Nonetheless, here are ten comedy shows offering new and personal perspectives on disability.

1 Elf and Duffy: Heist 

Uber-inventive comedian and clown Elf Lyons joins forces with  deaf theatre-maker [Brian] Duffy  to create this physical comedy show conducted in Visual Vernacular – a  British Sign Language-based theatre technique with elements of mime –  plus ‘very silly and violent’ live sound effects

Monkey Barrel Comedy at The Tron, 20:40, to 15th only

2 William Thompson: The Hand You're Dealt 

The 2021 BBC New Comedy Awards Finalist is already making waves in his native Northern Ireland, and now – eight years after he started stand-up – makes his Edinburgh Fringe debut. Growing up disabled with cerebral palsy on a Belfast council estate, people weren't sympathetic, he says, so he learned not to complain and play the hand you're dealt. The show also deals with  living with his grandparents, relationships and stereotypes… 

Pleasance Courtyard, 17:30

3. Awake and Narcoleptic with Sarah Albritton

In this stand-up show, possibly the world’s only  narcoleptic comedian, Sarah Albritton, aims to shed light on the challenges of living with the disorder. She’ll discuss diagnosis, medication  side effects, and misconceptions of invisible disabilities – as well as relationship fails, hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and, of course, falling asleep at the worst moments. Albritton also hosts the  podcast Sleeping with Sarah. 

Various venues and times within The Space

4. You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful 

Richard Wheatley describes himself as ‘Britain's leading blind theoretical physicist/stand-up comedian with a Blue Peter badge… well, definitely top three.’ Following his debut last year, he returns with a show about a subject that traditionally very much depends on sight:  the world of dating

 C Cubed, 2.30pm

5. Disabled Cants 

A revolving line-up of disabled comedians, hosed by Benny Shakes – who has cerebral palsy – and Mark Nicholas, who is autistic. ‘We're not brave, we're not inspiring, we're just here to make you laugh and park in the disabled bays,’ the blurb reads 

Laughing Horse @ Bar 50, 17:30

6: Aaron Simmonds: Baby Steps

Because of his cerebral palsy, Aaron Simmonds, pictured, has been doing stand-up comedy without standing up for eight years, mostly performing from his wheelchair… with a few notable exceptions, such as his appearance on The Russell Howard Hour. But now he’s attempting to do a full hour on his feet, and it’s quite the challenge.

Pleasance Courtyard, 16:25

7.  David Sands Stand-Up Comedy 

The deaf actor who played Chris Baker in the British Sign Language sitcom Small World performs a 35-minute stand-up set at Deaf Action (just down the road from The Stand) at midday on August 11 and 12.  Fellow deaf comic Essex-born Gavin Lilley, will be performing his BSL set on language, culture, family, travel and work at the same venue at 7.30pm on August 19 and 20.

They are not the only disabled comics doing a short run. Alex Gibbon performs the self-explanatory queer stand-up show Fat, Femme and Crippled at Laughing Horse @ Bar 50 at 3pm on August 5 to 15.  While in Crip the Light Fantastic – a one-off show at Leith Depot at 7.30pm on August 21 – disabled comics Mark Cooper, Yvonne Hughes and Eliott Simpson share a bull. 

8. McClaine Beirne: Wheelie Funny

Bristol-based newbie McClaine Beirne performs his his first 45-minute Edinburgh show, though there’s not much detail about what’s on offer other than it promises ‘hilarious true stories and jokes’. 

Laughing Horse @ Bar 50, 15:00

9. Wonder Drug: A Comedy About Cystic Fibrosis 

Actor and writer Charlie Merriman presents this one-man comedy theatre show about his condition, cystic fibrosis. Half the people who have it will not live past their 47th birthday. But on Sunday 6 December 2020, my life changed forever,’ the 29-year-old says.; I started the new CF drug Kaftrio, and my lung function is now better than 100 per cent! The months leading up to Kaftrio’s release could not have been less straightforward for me, however...’  This telling of his show features  game-show sequences,  animated antibiotics and singing syringes, all set to 1980s bangers.

Pleasance Courtyard, 12:30pm

10. Born In A Wheelchair 

Not all the shows catergorised as ‘disabled-led’ on the official Fringe website come from disabled performs. In his show, James Gardner talks about growing  up as a carer for his disabled brother Alexander. From DJing to foiling robberies together, this is a hilarious and heartwarming account of love, laughter and ludicrous experiences with disability.

Just the Tonic at The Caves, 13.30

And in her show, Side By Side (Underbelly Bristo Square at 17:45) American comic Maggie Crane talks about caring for her brother Aidan, who was blind, in a wheelchair, developmentally disabled, non-verbal, and ate mostly through a feeding tube. She writes about it here.

Thanks for reading. If you find Chortle’s coverage of the comedy scene useful or interesting, please consider supporting us with a monthly or one-off ko-fi donation.
Any money you contribute will directly fund more reviews, interviews and features – the sort of in-depth coverage that is increasingly difficult to fund from ever-squeezed advertising income, but which we think the UK’s vibrant comedy scene deserves.

Published: 21 Jul 2023

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.