DISABLED Lee Ridley doesn’t mind people laughing at him – because he is a stand-up comedian.
The 31-year-old, who will be performing in South Tyneside this week, is starting to build up a name for himself in comedy circles, despite not being able to talk.
He has had cerebral palsy since he was six months old and has spent his life battling against the illness.
The council worker can only communicate through a device called a Lightwriter, which he uses to type what he wants to say into and it speaks for him.
He works for Sunderland City Council by day, but by night his mission is to make people laugh as Lost Voice Guy
And he will be hoping to do just that when he appears at a comedy night at the West Park, in Stanhope Road, South Shields on Friday.
Lee said: “I’ve always loved stand-up comedy and making people laugh, and it was a dream to be a stand-up, but I never thought it would become a reality.
“I thought it would be too difficult given my disability, but some friends suggested I give it a try.
“Eventually I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t. Obviously I wasn’t going to make this year’s Olympics so I needed to find an alternative route to fame and fortune.”
Lee uses an iPad to speak for him during his stand-up because the voice is clearer, although he does worry about technical problems.
He added: “My main concern at first was that no one would be able to understand me but once I got over that, I could relax much more and just enjoy it.
“Obviously, I still worry that my iPad might crash during my set or something but I have faith in Steve Jobs and I haven’t had any problems so far.
“I actually don’t think my disability causes any more problems for me than any other comedian.
“So far I haven’t been heckled and I’ve got really great feedback.”
The night has been organised by South Shields promoter Luke Milford, who thinks Lee will be a big hit.
He said: “I think it takes a lot of people by surprise just how good he is. He is really starting to take off and it is deserved. It’s not a novelty act, he is really funny.”
The gig starts at 7pm on Friday and entry is £5.