Laurence Clark: Independence

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Laurence Clark: Independence
Published 14 Aug 2016

Since his last Edinburgh hour Laurence Clark has appeared in a dance production – “Not a sentence I ever thought I’d say,” he confesses, spinning his wheelchair around like Jeremy Clarkson in a new Bugatti. That collaboration—for the acclaimed show Purposeless Movements, by the Scottish dance/theatre company Birds of Paradise—may have helped add a fresh dimension to the comic’s standup.

Clark remains a whizz with the onscreen demonstrations, and the sort of self-deprecating gags that you just won’t hear elsewhere on the Fringe. But now there’s an extra visual flourish, and a genuinely dramatic denouement. Add reams of thought-provoking material, and you’ve got a rich package. 

This show’s overall theme also benefits from recent events. Independence was supposed to be about his own self-determination, and largely is, but he now links it skilfully into Brexit. Clark particularly bemoans the fact that his personal mantra, "Take Control", was also utilised by Brexiteer Boris Johnson. The comic is just trying to take control of his own life.

Clark most graphically demonstrates this—aside from that late twist—via a regular on-screen section called 'Let’s Laugh at the Sh*t that Laurence Clark Can’t Do', in which he proceeds to show footage of himself struggling stoically at everyday tasks: shoe tying, game playing, drink drinking. It’s sobering, enlightening and, yes, prompted by our host, funny.

Then he twists the comedy knife. “You’ve all just been laughing at a man with cerebral palsy,” says Clark with a grin. “I want you to have a long, hard look at yourselves.” We have, and we will.