When I heard the Radio 5 live interview with Laurence Clark at the end of July, I was immediately struck by the sense that this was a really nice guy: level-headed, easy-going, articulate and sensitive. His Fringe show, An Irresponsible Father’s Guide to Parenting, has taught me that he can add accomplished stand-up to that list of accolades.
Clark is both an affable bloke and an accomplished comedian.
The finalist of Amused Moose Edinburgh Laughter Awards, and recipient of Short-list magazine’s Funniest New Comedian award, is my kind of comic. He’s neither crude nor offensive – he doesn’t need to be – he’s simply funny. Clark’s humour is warm and mischievous and although, at times, close to the bone (see the Pope joke for details) it’s delivered in a way that never offends. There is a relatability to Clark’s material that also complements this cosy Fringe venue of The Box. I feel like I’m at the pub with my mate sharing and laughing at the many challenges and experiences of being a parent, with subject matters ranging from family holidays to parental ranting when it all gets too much!
But the parental viewpoint is only one topic of this comedian’s material. Clark also has cerebral palsy, and, as he has previously pointed out, “All comics draw on their own experience – that’s the job”. This part of who he is importantly also becomes part of his routine. In actuality, to be clear, it’s not his experience of having cerebral palsy that he comments on, but rather the unbelievable and, at times, shockingly-laughable reactions that people voice about him being a disabled parent. But Clark is a fighter and a witty pragmatist to boot and he takes these insults from the Twitter twits – such as the aptly named 'pantyflash' – and cuts them dead, handing this information over to his two young, worldly-wise sons for their comments and analysis. We are next treated to video footage of his boys, Tom and Jamie, and their reactions to the trolling Clark has had to suffer because people can’t seem to abide the idea that he, as he tells us, “has definitely had sex, twice!”
An hour after taking my seat in this intimate little venue, I conclude that my first impressions were indeed right. Clark is both an affable bloke and an accomplished comedian. His material is intelligent and well-written and his astute life observations, such as, “We are all idiots raising idiots in an idiot world”, are delivered with both an authentic integrity and a twinkle in the eye. I’m so glad he gave up his career in IT, post PHD, to tread the boards. He’s a natural under the spotlight, clearly loves being centre stage and he made me laugh and smile from beginning to end. And what’s more – newsflash for pantyflash – if the footage of his boys is anything to go by, Laurence Clark is an amazing dad too.