Tanya Raabe watches Laurence Clark’s show at Arena Theatre Wolverhampton, December 2007, as he delivers 'stand up' - or rather 'sit down' and 'wheel about' - comedy in his unique style
12% Evil explores whether, in this so-called PC generation, we still tend to stereotype disabled people as pitiable, brave, charity cases, invisible, comical, fakes, scroungers, and so on. It takes its title from the many famous villains who were portrayed as disabled in order to make them seem sinister and evil, including Richard III, Long John Silver, Captain Hook, Dr Strangelove, various Bond baddies and… Heather Mills-McCartney!
In this show Laurence Clarke looks at images fed to us in the media including films and story books and compares these with his own experiences, seeing him self as "12% Evil". He only touches the surface with his comparisons and I could see a great deal more mileage using comedy in its extremes to dismember some of the stereotypes where they have now become archetypes and grounded within disability culture.
If you’ve never seen a Laurence Clarke show, you may be in for a treat. He has a unique way of making you laugh at the absurdities of living in a disabling world. At first his use of statistics in a power point comedy show seemed predictable. It is a formula I’ve seen him use before, and considered quite dry and boring. But in this show Laurence takes it to another dimension with the introduction of short video clips. These present scenarios with him making a point about disability stereotypes.
My favourite was the one where he is shaking a charity bucket. The bucket has various different causes written on it to prove a point: that people will give money to a disabled person shaking a bucket no matter what …. well, nearly anything. Money for his mortgage was one and you have to go to see the show for the punchline…..it is worth it.
Laurence’s shows always pull in big audiences and this was no exception. Although he got off to a slow start he warmed up the audience and had them laughing in their seats with an appetite for more. The Laurence Clarke comedy experience offers a lot to both mainstream and disabled audiences. If you see your self as being more than 12% Evil, this is the show for you.