Basing your second Edinburgh show on the serious medical crisis
which cut short your first run at the Fringe the previous year is patently
logical. Lee Ridley, otherwise known as
It is self-deprecating while at the same time allowing the audience to overcome whatever reservations it might have about laughing at a disabled comic wearing a “Cerebral Palsy is my Bitch” t-shirt.
Laughter is the Worst Medicine is performed with the use of a synthesized voice recorder due to the comic being unable to use his vocal cords. As such, there are limitations to be expected when it comes to audience interaction. However, this doesn’t prevent him from opening by addressing them head on. Unfortunately the lady picked out from the crowd isn’t called Boris (used “because it’s the only name I have stored on here”), but this part of the routine is an extremely effective ice-breaker. It is self-deprecating while at the same time allowing the audience to overcome whatever reservations it might have about laughing at a disabled comic wearing a “Cerebral Palsy is my Bitch” t-shirt.
The show isn’t quite a straight-forward retelling of the battle with pneumonia which Lee went through this time last year. The first half of the performance is a series of anecdotes about how he deals with his condition on a day-to-day basis; while amusing in themselves, they seem a bit scattergun, especially when considered in relation to the second half of the show.
When he does get onto dealing with the fallout from last’s years illness, the act gathers some momentum. It’s not quite laugh-a-minute but there is a palpable narrative through line. Extension of this to incorporate the bric-a-brac of the first half would have served the performance well. As it stands, however, there is the makings of a very good show here.
The humour itself is relatively non-confrontational – the audience doesn’t have to look too hard for a joke when it comes along. It’s not so much wit or irony; rather, Lee has a good grasp of the shape of the joke. There is one instance when the voice synthesizer is abandoned altogether with the intention of delivering harm to one of a beloved series of children’s books. This is performed (and more importantly, timed) to perfection.
Laughter is the Worst Medicine is one of those shows which has the potential to improve with each performance. Lost Voice Guy is right – laughter probably isn’t the best medicine (that honour is bestowed unquestioningly on morphine). However, it will do until the medicine gets here.