You’ll learn two things from Aaron Simmonds’ Disabled Coconut. The first is that you should never, ever get on the wrong side of his Gran on social media, because – age 84 – she’ll tear you down with 'pushing the envelope' wit. Secondly, the talent clearly runs in the family, as Simmonds – BBC New Comedy Award finalist and self-declared 'wheelchair enthusiast' – offers sharply-observed comedy grounded in his disability, but by no means limited by it.
Amiable, likeable, and a commanding presence on stage, Aaron Simmonds is an exciting talent.
It’s fair to point out that Simmonds’ show probably shares many of the features you’ll find being performed by numerous other young, male stand-ups currently in Edinburgh. Not least, when it comes to talking about past, invariably failed relationships or an embarrassing 'first impression' introduction to his prospective father-in-law during last year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Simmonds talks about past gigs, including one for the BBC. He’s somewhat self-mocking about being gluten-intolerant, explaining why he feels it’s vital for us to properly fund scientific research into devising gluten-free pizzas that are actually edible.
Yet disability is there throughout, not least in the title—inspired by the fact that, despite having cerebral palsy since birth, some other disabled people have accused him of 'not being disabled enough". Coconut is a racial slur used by some BAME people against those they consider non-white on the outside but, like a coconut, white inside. Simmonds is, to be honest, confused how this metaphor can possibly map onto disability. He's brilliant at finding a humorous side to being disabled, not least the realisation that his own personal parameters when it comes to 'embarrassing' are not the norm.
When it comes to the reactions of non-disabled people to him and his girlfriend, Simmonds is focused not so much on their cringe-worthy idiocies, but in the ways he and his girlfriend hit back. They sound like a well-matched pair, with a mutually serious commitment to a good punchline. Amiable, likeable and with a commanding presence on stage, Aaron Simmonds is an exciting talent. But seriously – don’t engage with his Gran on Twitter.