Writer and actor Laurence Clark brings his 10th critically acclaimed comedy show, ‘An Irresponsible Father’s Guide to Parenting’, to the UK this year after its premiere at the Edinburgh Festival. His observational, political stand-up and filmed stunts demonstrate the endearing naivety and ridiculousness of human behaviour by seeing the world through his eyes with humour and warmth.
The back story
Growing up, Laurence never came across any dads with cerebral palsy; which made him think he would never be one himself. Besides, he was way too selfish to look after another human being. He was in love with having a disposable income and going for a poo with no children watching… and having a lie-in without someone belly flopping onto him at 6am!
But then…he meets his wife to be Adele. Who makes it clear that if they’re to have a future, then he had better be prepared for the fact she wants a family…which came as a shock on a first date! What follows is the hilarious, honest, warm story of two people with cerebral palsy traversing the ups and downs of parenthood.
Over the years people on social media have commented that they think it’s irresponsible for Laurence and his wife to have kids in their situation. So he now wants to set the record straight – if he is an irresponsible father, it’s got nothing to do with being disabled! It’s probably more to do with things like strategically balancing his wife’s crutches on his son’s baby walker to make him look like a Dalek!
Interview with Laurence Clarke
Laurence kindly spoke to me more about his show in this interview with me…amidst lots of laughing too.
Can you give me a little snapshot into your show and what inspired you to write an ‘Irresponsible Father’s Guide to Parenting Your 2018’
My kids have got more and more curious about what I do for a living and they asked me if they could be in one of my shows. I have struggled for a while how I could that in a way that didn’t feel added on or exploitative. I wanted to do a show about being a father for a while. We made a documentary 5 or 6 years ago for the BBC and in December that got loaded onto Youtube. Hundreds of thousands of people watched it and people say the first things that come into their heads in the comments underneath. We were all a bit upset about some of the things that people wrote and wanted to do something in response to that. Then I thought it would actually be better that I could say I am a great dad and my wife is a great mum, but it is a lot stronger from my kids. So I picked out 8 comments of the main kind of things people were saying and misconceptions and I filmed my kids reading them for the first time and their reactions to them, which is how I managed to include them.
To touch upon the title, I was really shocked to hear people had said it was irresponsible for you to be a parent on social media and were negative. What would you say to these people now?
We deconstruct their misconceptions and show them up for what they are.
The relationship with you and Adele is obviously really strong. What’s your favourite things about being a husband & father?
(There was a lot of laughing here. Followed by a quick offline chat with Adele…which led to more laughing). That’s really difficult (more laughs). Obviously you have someone to share the work and the pain. This morning, Jamie hasn’t seen me in 8.5 days. I keep saying it’s a week but he keeps correcting me. He came in this morning and gave me a big hug.
I read your first comedy gig was at a cabaret night at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. What made you first go into comedy and what do you love about it so much?
I always wanted to be do comedy but really I wanted to be a writer. I was getting nowhere sending off scripts as no-one does. I enjoyed it initially as a way of trying it out. It grew from there.
I am off to the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time this year. What do you love about performing at the Fringe?
It’s a great atmosphere and audiences are happy to take a risk Go see people they have’t heard of before or maybe a bit different from the norm. Feels like because the rest of the year comedians are mostly do comedy clubs which are mostly in cellars and attics and places which are not accessible. It feels like the Fringe is more of a levelling field.
What advice would you give to other people starting out in comedy?
To go for it and get as much practice as you can because the more you do it the better it will get. You have to learn the hard way. Even now even though I have been doing it so long. Some jokes don’t work. The only real way to find out is so funny is put it in front of an audience. You might find it funny but they don’t.
Laurence has performed everywhere from the House of Commons to a double-decker bus in Sheffield. His 9 critically acclaimed solo shows at the Edinburgh Fringe have gained him a plethora of four and five star reviews. With television appearances on BBC, ITV and Channel 4, Laurence was the subject of major BBC1 documentary “We Won’t Drop the Baby”. He was awarded Shortlist magazine’s Funniest New Comedian, came runner-up in the Amused Moose Edinburgh Laughter Awards and performs and writes sketches for comedy collective Abnormally Funny People.
In March 2018 Laurence’s first play, Cured won an Unlimited R&D commission from over 200 entries. It tells the story of 4 young disabled Scousers who rebel during a Catholic pilgrimage to Lourdes and will premiere at Liverpool’s Royal Court theatre in November. Laurence and collaborator Matt Holt have been commissioned by Channel 4 to write a pilot for their sitcom Intolerable, about two incompetent equality and diversity trainers. The sitcom is currently in development with production company Objective Fiction. In addition, Lime Pictures have also just optioned Help, Laurence’s drama series set in Liverpool about people who use social care.
Laurence is currently performing at the Edinburgh Fringe before taking his show on a nationwide tour. Do go and see him!