Founded and produced by a disabled and non-disabled duo, this is the tenth anniversary show by Abnormally Funny People; a group of disabled comedians, all of whom are regulars on the comedy circuit. They always have a 'token' non-disabled comedian who is never allowed to fulfil their role and is only invited to be involved in small, minor and fairly insignificant ways, which refers to the way many disabled people are asked to participate in society. For the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the token non-disabled comics comprise of well-known acts. The standard announcements over the PA before the show, telling us to switch off mobile phones, and warnings about strobe lighting, are intentionally subversive, and we are told if we want soft, sentimental and inspirational stories about disability, then we should watch the Paralympics instead. This gives us the audience an idea of what is to follow, and from the beginning we are encouraged to laugh and find disability humorous (in the context of this show at least!). The song accompanying the entrance of the comics, is 'What's That Coming Over The Hill Is It A Monster' as they all take their places.
The three comedians sit on the stage throughout the show, with the token non-disabled one sitting off stage and only making appearances when invited. While the line-up for Abnormally Funny people is rolling, the line-up we saw was Steve Day, Laurence Clark and Tanyalee Davies, with Richard Vranch filling in as the token non-disabled comic. Steve Day, who has been with the company from the beginning, introduces himself as Britain's only deaf comedian... 'or if there are any others he hasn't heard.' This along with jokes that include misunderstandings occurring during lip-reading and wrongly written sub-titles, along with a couple of political gags, sets the tone for the evening. Next up is Laurence Clark who refers to his speech with the opening line 'no I'm not drunk', going on to tell anecdotes about people assuming that as a wheelchair user with Cerebral Palsy, people assume his children are there to look after him, rather than the other way around. Laurence uses a power point presentation as part of his act, with photos and other images to illustrate his jokes, some of which are about other instances of infantilisation, a common occurrence for many adults with visible impairments.
An improv section takes place, compered by token non-disabled comic Vranch, who is welcomed onstage with comments such as 'you're so brave' and other patronising statements often experienced by disabled people. The improv involves a small amount of audience participation, and having one of the 3 people taking part being deaf, presented an authentic representation of the mis-understandings and pressures of time that can occur in daily life, when things are not heard accurately and people are impatient with repeating words (all managed with good humour in this situation!). The third and final act up is Tanyalee Davies, who refers to responses she gets from children, to her physicality as someone of small stature. Tanyalee's material centres around sexuality and desire, and she jokingly flirts with a young male member of the audience, labelling herself as a 'cougar'. There is plenty of amusing banter between the cast throughout the show, riffing off each other and jokingly insulting each other, particularly in relation to mis-translating on purpose or saying things they know Steve Day cannot hear. Abnormally Funny people is/are incisive and cutting, and has, for 10 years, been challenging stereotypes and expectations while delivery high-quality comedy. Happy Anniversary. (CL)
ABNORMALLY FUNNY PEOPLE, Stand in the Square, 6-30 August
Palantyped Shows: (live subtitling) on 11th, 16th and 28th
Audio Description can be arranged upon request. Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wheelchair accessible (one accessible toilet behind the bar in the square)
More about Abnormally Funny People:
More about Laurence Clark
A clip of Tanyalee Davis
A clip of Steve Day