Laurence Clark returns to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival after a two-year hiatus to the Assembly George Square Box. His new hour is called An Irresponsible Father’s Guide To Parenting and is the follow up to 2016’s Independence.
Laurence spoke with The Fountain about the inspiration behind this show, getting rid of a whole host of misconceptions, as well as his plans post-Fringe.
TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?
I’m really excited because I love coming to the Fringe. On the whole Edinburgh has been good to me over the years, as it’s enabled me to make a name for myself without playing lots of comedy clubs which are mostly inaccessible to comedians who use wheelchairs. Edinburgh punters are fantastic as you get a discerning comedy audience who are not afraid to take risks and try new things.
TF: The show certainly sounds intriguing, what is the premise?
I’d never really thought about becoming a father. Growing up, I never saw guys with cerebral palsy with kids; which limited my own expectations and made me think I’d never be a dad. Besides, my younger self was way too selfish to look after a child. The most I’d ever managed was a cactus… and that died of dehydration.
I was far too in love with not being woken up in the morning by a small human jumping on my knackers. But when I first meet my future wife Adele, she says I’d better be prepared for the fact she wants babies… which is a pretty strong opening line. What follows is the hilarious, honest, warm story of two people with cerebral palsy traversing the ups and downs of parenthood.
TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?
My kids are both natural performers and wanted to be part of the show, especially as it’s partly about them. But I struggled for a long while with how to meaningfully achieve this.
Then something quite odd happened. Several years ago when we were having our second son Jamie, we were filmed for a BBC documentary called We Won’t Drop the Baby (title was not my idea!) Then recently it was put on Youtube and we suddenly became clickbait… alongside plastic surgery fails and those quizzes to find out which Disney princess you are. Strangers could look into our family home and share their considered, well-informed comments, judging us on how we raise our kids.
When I read through them all, I got a glimpse of the kinds of misconceptions the average person in the street has of me as a disabled parent with cerebral palsy. I got told that having kids in my position is just irresponsible by someone calling themselves “pantyflash”. Talk about people in glass houses!
Someone else asked how could I even make the baby when I’m in a wheelchair and can’t hold anything properly? Of course, the simple answer to that is I did it the sameway as everyone else, namely got drunk, forgot the condom and welcomed in a lifetime of regrets!
Someone called “Little Bunny Bunny” even said that I shouldn’t have been born or allowed to reproduce! Has there ever been a greater disparity between such a nasty opinion and such a cutesy name?
I filmed my kids reacting to some of these comments and saying what they thought of them. So this is a stand-up comedy show where my kids and I go through these misconceptions about us and, once and for all, set the record straight.
TF: What are your plans for the Fringe, having been before are there any tips or musts you would offer to first-time performers?
My tip would be instead of coming to the Fringe, go to your bank, withdraw everything in your account right up to your overdraft limit and then set light to the cash. This will give you the exact same outcome as performing at the Fringe for three and a half weeks but without the feelings of insecurity and rejection which come from having something you’ve poured your heart and soul into judged by total strangers!
TF: And what are your future plans beyond The Fringe?
Sleep! And then frantically finish writing my play Cured which has won an Unlimited R&D commission and is being produced by the Liverpool Royal Court theatre and will be directed by Edinburgh-based director Robert Softley Gale. The tagline goes…
For some people, a trip to Lourdes in France means prayer, contemplation and quiet self-reflection. But for one group of young, disabled Scousers, it means alcohol, debauchery, fornication and definitely no frigging miracle cures!
I need to have the script ready for a rehearsed reading on the Liverpool Royal Court’s main stage during DaDaFest on 12 November, after which I hope it will develop into a full production.
Laurence Clark: An Irresponsible Fathers Guide to Parenting, Assembly George Square – The Box, 5:40pm, 4th – 26th August (except 14th)