Lost Voice Guy’s ‘Inspiration Porn’ and Robert White and His Particularly Silly Organ go to The Fringe

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This year’s Edinburgh Fringe saw two disabled comedians Lost Voice Guy and Robert White performing sell-out shows. Review by Kirin Saeed. Commissioned by Dolly Sen as part of her guest editorship on Disability Arts Online.

Photo of two visually impaired people smiling at the camera with performer Lee Ridley

Lost Voice Guy, Lee Ridley (centre) with Stephen Portlock {left} and Kirin Saeed.

I was delighted to discover, through a visually impaired friend that two ‘famous’ disabled comedians were coming to the Fringe. I am an avid viewer of Reality TV. I am not sure if I should admit this. But the fact is that this year I was further impressed when one of my favourite shows, Britain’s Got Talent winner Lost Voice Guy and runner-up Robert White were both disabled comedians. It was a double whammy! Comedians have never won the show and to top it all, they were both disabled people. This says a lot for a programme, which has few disabled performers.

Refreshingly at The Gilded Balloon and the Pleasance Courtyard, repectively, both comedians had a mixed audience of disabled and non-disabled people and I thoroughly enjoyed both performances. These factors combined to make these shows the best two hours of the Fringe for me.

Lost Voice Guy has been on the circuit for a while and was an extremely sleek and professional performer. It was his mix of comedy and disability activism that worked so well and that surprised me.

His activism managed to be pretty uncompromising while still being funny and without leaving the non-disabled audience feeling bruised or defensive. The fact that Lost Voice Guy has to pre-write his script and uses an iPad to communicate means there is little room for audience participation or for him to be reactive. Still, it worked really well.

There were a couple of gags which required some sighted in-put but apart from that it was a brilliant and funny show. A small disappointment. I thought as the show was called ‘Inspiration Porn’ it would be ruder then it actually was; call me cheeky!

Robert White on the other hand is a whole different ball game. He is rather more of an edgy comedian. From the beginning he started to challenge the audience. My visually impaired friend and I with our PA, sat in the front row. Yes I know! We were asking for trouble!

Often when you go to shows you are put in the front row or second from the front for fire regulations. This doesn’t really have much of an impact when it comes to comedy. Most comedians shy away from engaging with the disabled audience members. Robert, from the beginning, wasn’t like that.

My friend dropped his talking book machine on the floor and my PA picked it up. He commented on her “invading the stage”! From that moment on we all became part of his act, including him commenting on my PA describing some of the posters and more visual gags. He then joined in by describing what was happening on the stage himself. Instant access!

My friend and I found it so refreshing to be seen as part of the audience and not to be protected. I can fully understand though why he didn’t win Britain’s Got Talent. I am not sure how his type of comedy would have gone down with the Queen! Toning down his show would have lost the true challenge he was making through his rather risque comments.

My only disappointment was that there had been a fire incident which meant we didn’t get the chance to speak to him or get his CDs after the performance.

I believe both comedians have their place on the mainstream circuit. Commercialism versus pushing forward the boundaries. Will I get to experience more of this type of comedy in the future? Oh yes please!