Doing comedy? There's an app for that

iPad allows mute comic to perform

An aspiring comic who lost the power of speech when he was a child has completed his first stand-up gig – using an iPad to talk.

Lee Ridley fulfilled a long-standing ambition when he performed his first gig earlier this month – and he has more shows on the way.

The 31-year-old, who works for Sunderland City Council, lost his voice when he was a baby, when a bout of meningitis left him with cerebral palsy.

He wrote on his blog: ‘I’ve always loved stand up comedy and I’ve also loved making people laugh. It really is such a buzz. Doing stand up has always been my dream job but I just never thought it was possible given the nature of my disability.'

But using a £1.49 iPhone app called Speak It!, which translates text to realistic-sounding speech, he was able to entertain the audience at Mission in Sunderland with jokes such as: ‘When I realised I wouldn’t be able to talk again – I was speechless.’

It’s thought that Ridley, who uses the stage name Lost Voice Guy, is the first comedian to perform his act using a communication aid.

‘Given that I have no speech, you can understand why I never thought that it would happen, even though I’ve always dreamed of doing it,’ he said. ‘I just thought it would be too difficult, that people wouldn’t understand me, that I would be silly to try. I clearly underestimated my own determination.’

After the gig, he said: ‘My ten minutes on stage last night just blew me away. The buzz that I got from people actually laughing at material that I’d written was awesome. I never expected it to go as well as it did. I just thought I’d give it a try and see what happened. I’m glad I did! I’ve been buzzing ever since.’

He said the app does allow him to change his set to a certain degree as he goes along, telling Chortle: ‘I can change the timings of the jokes, I guess knowing when to pause and when to not to will come with practice. I can also rearrange the order of my set if needed.

‘I have some generic come backs stored in case I get heckled. I'm pretty quick on the keyboard but I'm not sure if I am fast enough to keep the banter up for long without the audience losing patience with me. Although an awkward silence could be funny in itself. Maybe I'll see one day. I think that I'll learn how to handle different situations with practice and experience.’

Ridley’s next gig as at the Trent House in Newcastle on March 3 – but here is his debut performance:

Published: 21 Feb 2012

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