Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh
Britain’s Got Talent winner Lee Ridley combines the political and personal with razor-sharp observations about disability
‘If you expect me to be that sweet and innocent tonight, you’re in a for a big surprise.” And so Lee Ridley greets his audience – those wooed by his winning stint as Lost Voice Guy on the recent run of Britain’s Got Talent – in a tiny garret room at the Edinburgh fringe, booked before fame came calling. His new show, Inspiration Porn, is more political – and more vulnerable – than anything you would expect to see on the same TV programme as Simon Cowell. It is a distinctive mix of barbed disability comedy and the kind of self-mocking humour that Hannah Gadsby, with her Netflix hit Nanette, has recast in a troubling new light.
There were times, in other words, that I felt saddened by how ruthless Ridley is with himself onstage – his disability (Ridley has cerebral palsy and is unable to speak), supposed unattractiveness and low self-esteem. But that is his prerogative, and certainly fits with his show’s rejection of the inspirational rhetoric that surrounds high-achieving disabled people. In the “posh old man” tones of his voice synthesiser – the unorthodox comic timing takes some adjusting to – he contrasts inspirational quotes and “yes we can” Paralympic mottos with the realities of his own life: lazy, lonely, he tells us, and “shit at everything”.