Interview: Laurence Clark

Laurence-Clark-web-mainThis Friday, critically acclaimed comedian Laurence Clark brings his latest show to the Liverpool Comedy Festival. Moments of Instant Regret promises a no holds barred look at a few controversial topics and “despicable deeds” through warm observation. Laurence is known for hard-hitting but thoughtful material inspired by how disability is viewed by the world, but now he’s taking a more introspective line. We chatted to Laurence about the show, breaking taboos and cathartic comedy…

How would you describe the show?

My show is called Moments of Instant Regret. I guess most of us will have experienced moments where the second the words leave our mouths we wish we could ram them back in, or that the ground would just open up and swallow us whole. And no matter how much time passes, we still experience that sickening feeling of regret and our toes curling with cringing embarrassment. It’s often when someone annoys us so much we respond without thinking… then catch sight of their pissed off look and realise we’ve switched from innocent victim to outright offender.

In the past my shows have tended to focus on how other people can sometimes treat me unfairly because I’m a disabled person. This show instead looks at how I sometimes respond disproportionately to such treatment. So it’s essentially about how much of an arsehole I can be!

How similar would you say you are to your onstage persona?

This show is much more personal and honest than anything I’ve done before. So, unfortunately the impetuous, hot-headed guy I portray in the show who often jumps to the wrong conclusion is pretty much me.

What inspires your material?

Comedy thrives on breaking taboos. Disability still seems to be considered a taboo which is why you get so many comics doing material about it. But because I’m disabled I think sometimes there’s a preconception that my act is going to be worthy in some way and not particularly funny. Sometimes people say to me “you don’t do comedy about disability do you?” as if they think it’s going to be really depressing. However no one would dream of telling Graham Norton to not do material about being gay. All stand-up comics use aspects of themselves and their experiences to create material and I don’t see why disabled comics should be any different. So I tend to use uncomfortable, socially awkward past experiences as inspiration – it can be very cathartic!

Who are your comedy influences?

Ten years ago I was a wannabe comedy writer, sending off unsolicited scripts to places like the BBC to no avail. I loved stand-up, but couldn’t see how someone like me could make it work. Then I saw a Dave Gorman show, and was completely blown away. Gorman used slides, video, sound clips; it made me realise that stand-up doesn’t have to be one person talking for an hour. I started to develop my own act, using audio, video, slides, props and anything else I could lay my hands on.

I also admire the American comedians Larry David and Louis CK because of the way they push the envelope when it comes to exploring awkward situations.

What’s the last thing that made you laugh out loud?

My three year old son Jamie is always making me laugh. Recently he’s taken to randomly inserting rude words into sentences when we’re out in public.

What’s your favourite thing about Liverpool?

One night I was on my way home, going past Queen’s Square bus station, when I was stopped by a dodgy-looking bloke in a long mac who wanted to sell me something. I thought to myself… Drugs? Pirate DVDs? Cheap cigarettes? Instead he opened his mac to reveal a wide range of shampoos and conditioners. “Want some L’Oreal Elvive mate? Pantene Pro-V?” This could only happen in Liverpool!


You can follow Laurence on twitter @Laurence_Clark.

Catch Laurence Clark: Moments of Instant Regret at The Unity Theatre, this Friday, 26th September at 7pm. More information and tickets can be found on the Unity website here.

For more on this and the other excellent shows on as part of the Liverpool Comedy Festival, check out their website or our coverage of the event here.


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