Those of you that know me know that I enjoy a challenge. Which is a good job, because supporting Newcastle United is always a challenge! But it has also helped me cope with my disability. There’s always going to be things that I can never do. Simple things like tying a knot (which means I’ll never get the chance to hang David Cameron) or making a cup of tea (therefore poisoning David Cameron) are always going to be impossible.
I like to concentrate on what is possible though, whatever other people say. They said I wouldn’t survive in mainstream education. I got 8 GCSE’s. No one expected me to go to college (even though for me it was a given that I’d want to continue my education). I got three A grades at A-Level. Given my disability, wanting to study journalism at university was perhaps the biggest challenge of them all. One university that I visited even tried to persuade me to go somewhere else. It was nice to feel wanted Edinburgh Napier University! As it turns out, I wouldn’t have swapped my time at the University of Central Lancashire for anything. Even with a Master and an undergraduate degree it took me years to find someone who would employ me. Whether that was down to my disability or not, I’m still not sure.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m just like everyone else and it’s no big deal that I’ve done these things. I’m just demonstrating the challenges I’ve faced.
My point is that since getting my job, I’ve not really had many big challenges to face. I wouldn’t change anything in my life at all right now but it has got a bit dull. Basically, I need a new challenge.
Now, call me crazy (because I certainly have) but I’ve decided to try my hand at stand up comedy. Insane for someone who finds it difficult to communicate, right?
Why am I doing it then? Well, 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. However, it was only when my friend Nathan (@nathanwould on Twitter) suggested that it could work that I started giving it serious thought. I have since asked other people who have been positive about it.
If it doesn’t go to plan, I have maybe made a rod for my own back by blogging about it but I also wanted to make sure that I couldn’t chicken out of it either. I’ll be the first to admit that this could go nowhere. My main concern is that no-one will be able to understand me and I’ll just be standing there talking to myself….but I’m used to that! Maybe I’m not that funny after all either. How this is going to work from a technical point of view is also bugging me. Do I plug myself into the sound, use a mic or what!? There’s nothing to be lost by trying though. At least then I’ll know for sure. As long as I give it a go, I’ll be happy.
There’s lots of disabled comedians that I have huge respect for but I don’t think that there’s another stand up comedian that uses a communication device (correct me if I’m wrong, I’d be interested to know!) so that’s another reason for trying to do it.
As an added incentive for me, I have decided to set up a Just Giving page so that people can sponsor me as part of my challenge to do stand up comedy. While this idea is very personal (and blatantly all about my ego!), I’d like to think I could raise some money for Scope, the leading UK disability charity for children and adults with cerebral palsy, in the process too.
I’m not saying I’m going to be next Michael McIntyre (one is more than enough!), I’m just saying I’m promising to give it a go and enjoy myself. If you think I can do it please show your support by donating at http://www.justgiving.com/standupforlee
You can also donate £5 by texting ‘SUFL99 £5′ to 70070.
I’ve already spoken to a few people/venues about getting short open mic spots soon but if you know of anywhere else in the north east that might be interested in having me perform short sets then please get in touch. I’d also welcome your thoughts on whether I’m completely insane and any ideas you have on how to get the best results when I’m on stage.
I’ll keep you updated on my progress.
UPDATE – 23/1/12