An interview with award-winning comedian Lee Ridley
Comedy was a part of the Sunderland Literature Festival on Tuesday, October 20. Lee Ridley came to the City Library to discuss his career in journalism and gave the audience the chance to hear a snippet of his work.
Lee has cerebral palsy which has left him unable to speak but he uses a communication aid in order to deliver his jokes to the audience. Lee Ridley also goes by the stage name Lost Voice Guy.
Sophie Dishman went along to the event to interview him.
S: What communication aid do you use to deliver your comedy?
L: I use a device called a Light Writer. Basically I just type in what I want to say and it says it for me.
S: What is it like telling jokes with a communication aid?
L: That’s a good question. I think that it’s made me think more about my material and how it’s written because once I’m on stage, I can’t really change it. So I have to get it right beforehand. I also think that it’s a pretty unique way of telling jokes so it gives the audience a bit of variety at comedy nights as well.
S: Could you describe the type of comedy you do?
L: I think that my sense of humour is a bit twisted really. I am influenced a lot by shows like the League of Gentleman and stuff like that. I think I’ve always used humour to cope with things so my stand-up is an extension of that really.
S: Where do you get the inspiration for your jokes?
L: I do concentrate a lot on my disability because I have 34 years worth of material to play with which is a good start! The other stuff just comes to me, if I randomly think of something funny, I will write it down as a note and try to work on it later.
S: Why have you decided to use jokes surrounding the area of disability, in particular cerebral palsy?
L: It wasn’t really a conscious decision to concentrate on disability, it just sort-of happened because that’s what I have most experience of. I do comedy for a laugh and because I enjoy it. But if it helps people have a different view of disability and there’s a positive aspect to it as well, then that’s a good thing.
S: Do you use your journalism background to help you with your material?
L: Yes. I think my journalism skills come in very useful. It certainly helps with writing my jokes and structuring them the right way. I also think it helps keep my jokes tight and to the point. It’s probably made me very observant as well.
S: You won a BBC new comedy award – what was the experience like?
L: It was amazing. The day itself was all a bit of a blur because I was so nervous. But once I had won, I was on cloud nine for about a week afterwards. It’s just great to think so many people thought I was good enough to win it.
S: Coming back to Sunderland, you made your stand-up debut here – how was it?
L: Again, I was very nervous because I didn’t know what to expect or even if it would work. But thankfully it went well and I caught the bug of doing stand up comedy. I hadn’t really looked back since.
S: What do you like about Sunderland and the Literature Festival?
L: I like a lot about Sunderland because I went to school and used to work here so I feel very close to the city. I think that it’s got so much going on at the moment for people to see and do which is great. It will give the city a great future. Things like the literature festival encourage more people to get involved and take part so it will benefit the city as well.
S: And finally, what’s next for you in your comedy career?
L: I’m currently writing a sitcom for BBC Radio 2 which is due to be written by the end of the year so I’m concentrating on that most. Then I’m just going to be gigging all over the UK as well and just seeing what happens next.
You can find out more about Lee on his website – http://lostvoiceguy.com.
More information about other events happening as part of the Sunderland Literature Festival can be found on the Sunderland City Council website.