Transcript of #4

 

Abnormally Funny People Podcast 4

 

Presented by Simon Minty and Steve Best

 

 

intro

Welcome to the Abnormally Funny People Show, sponsored by Barclays. For further information please visit abnormallyfunnypeople.com. We hope you enjoy the show.

[playing music]

steve

Hello, welcome to the Abnormally Funny People podcast. I’m Steve Best.

simon

Hello, and I’m Simon Minty. We’re back from our holidays. Did you have a good time, Steve?

steve

Yes I did, Simon, I had a very good time. I was away for five weeks all in all.

simon

I remember it well. Abnormally Funny People was very… What did you do? Where did you go?

steve

Well, I spent a couple of weeks in Croatia near Dubrovnik with my family.

simon

Very nice.

steve

Actually with my brothers as well and their families, 14 of us.

simon

That’s a big group.

steve

It was a big group, and then we spent another three weeks in Montenegro. And you? You went on holiday?

simon

I did. I went, I’ve talked about this before, conventions, Little People of America conventions. This one was in San Diego in California, unbelievably amazing hotel, about 2,000 of us again. I did my usual first day or two completely overwhelmed but I went and found people I really love and just sort of hugged them and just sort of found my feet for a day or two.

steve

You found your people.

simon

Yes.

steve

Is that your…?

simon

Well they’re all my people, but when you’re suddenly with 2,000 of your people it can be a bit overwhelming. But no, it’s good, and the best bit was having short people surfing.

steve

Oh yeah.

simon

Just unbelievable, there were like 50 of us out in the water surfing away.

steve

You did it?

simon

I didn’t, I don’t have any balance on a good day so the idea of then getting up on a surfboard… I should have done it though because I had so much support, the team that were teaching us were really cool. You know what? I was happy to be proud and loads of people got up. If you’ve got achondroplasia which is the most common form you have really good balance, so these people were jumping up on surfboards in no time at all.

steve

But you could do a lie flat one as well couldn’t you? That’s the beginner’s one.

SIMON

You see I’ve got to overcome it, because you could have done and that would have been fine just to be… that’s what people said, just to be taken in by the wave is brilliant, but there was me going but that’s a bit rubbish, if I’m doing it I want to do it properly, but I should have let that go and gone for it.

STEVE

But you’ve got a slight fear of falling in as well, of swimming.

SIMON

Drowning?

STEVE

Well yeah! Trying to breathe underwater, but you’re a swimmer, you swim?

SIMON

I can swim, yeah. Not strong, but I can do it.

STEVE

Because years ago, do you remember in the Philippines, me and you, our boat capsized?

SIMON

Is this your moment of the month?

STEVE

No.

SIMON

Yes I do remember this, go on.

STEVE

I can remember you got really scared, I mean I was pretty scared but you got really scared, I mean the boat was going under wasn’t it?

SIMON

So this was sunset off the island of Boracay, we were as far out, we could only just see and this little catamaran that sank.

STEVE

It was sinking wasn’t it?

SIMON

And I remember you going, “Where’s my camera? Where’s my camera?” and I’m like, “We’re going to die! We’re going to die!” It was horrendous.

steve

And do you remember there was a big ferry next to us?

simon

Yes!

steve

Yeah, this huge ferry.

SIMON

Yeah, and we were saying we were drowning and they all thought we were waving. Do you remember that motorboat came and picked us up and they said, “You idiots, what are you doing out this far?”

steve

It was our guide wasn’t it, it wasn’t our fault.

SIMON

You’re right, it was a guide. I was scared then, I can’t believe you brought that up, that old chestnut.

steve

I didn’t mean to, yeah.

SIMON

So San Diego was great fun, a little bit more fun than the Philippines, definitely. How are we doing? Let’s talk some numbers. Listeners? How are we getting on?

STEVE

You’ll never believe this, we’ve had 2,200 listens so far, maybe more now after today.

simon

I do believe you. Okay.

STEVE

And another hundred or so on YouTube and of course you were in ‘The Guardian’, Mr Minty, you were profiled in ‘The Guardian’.

SIMON

There was that little piece.

steve

Little piece? It was a full page spread that was.

simon

We will speak about that. And what about the competition, because every month we offer all our products as prizes. Competition.

steve

Big news, Mr Minty, we have a winner.

simon

That is fantastic. How many people entered?

steve

The important thing is, Mr Minty, is that we have a winner.

simon

Oh! Okay.

Steve

Actually Debbie, Debbie’s the winner. She’s from London and she came up with the answer to the Muggi. Do you remember the Muggi, that tray, the plastic tray?

simon

Yeah, that carried more than one cup if you didn’t…

Steve

Four cups you could get in there.

simon

Yeah, okay.

Steve

We all liked that. She said “I want the Muggi because I only have use of one hand so can only carry one drink at a time and as the drinks machine is at the other end of my office at work it takes ages for me to get anyone but myself a drink. This would save me a lot of time and also please my work colleagues. Happy, exclamation mark.” And that’s what won it.

simon

Well done, Debbie. The Muggi tray is on its way; it may be with you now.

Steve

And we’ll have another competition this month after we’ve seen the products.

SIMON

Great stuff. In case you’re new to the podcast we release this on the first Sunday of each month, sometimes a day or two either side of that. If you or you know other people who would prefer to read it we have a transcription that goes up on the same day as we release it. So set your diary, or even better, just subscribe.

steve

We’d love to hear from you. It was great having Debbie write to us so even if it’s not for the competition you can write to us about anything, something we could review or anything else and don’t forget to review us if you like the show. Five stars, maybe five and a half.

SIMON

You can email us, the email address is podcast@abnormallyfunnypeople and we’re in the usual places, Facebook and Twitter. This week’s show is going to be a little bit busy I think, Mr Best.

steve

Busy, what do you mean by busy? Lots of people? We’ve got lots of people?

SIMON

No, no, no, just the two performers. Both of our guests are performers, both involved in comedy and other forms of entertainment.

steve

And both disabled.

SIMON

Yes, that’s the bit where I think it’s going to be busy. We have Laurence Clark and he’s a well-established stand-up, we also have Jess Thom who has her own show called Touretteshero. I suppose the unique bit, and this is terrible bearing in mind we’re a disability thing but they have their own speech stuff going on and have certain speech difficulties and so on, communication, yet their job is to stand up in front of people and talk to them.

steve

That’s very good. I know Laurence, I’ve met Laurence lots of times, obviously he’s done the show with us, but I’ve never met Jess so that would be great. They’re coming up next.

SIMON

And so lovely listener, we have a little warning as well. We had a little chat with Jess and because of her Tourettes it means there are involuntary noises and words and so there may be occasionally some swear words that come out in the show which you will be able to tell they’re her involuntary bits, we’re not going to bleep them out and we’re not going to edit it down, so we hope you love the pure joy of our show in its entirety and we’ll see how we go.

 

[playing music]

steve

Welcome to our guests on this month’s Abnormally Funny People Show. First up is Jess Thom.

jess

Biscuit. Santa.

steve

Jess is co-founder of Touretteshero. She’s an artist, play worker and expert fundraiser. Jess has had tics since she was a child but wasn’t diagnosed with Tourettes until she was in her 20s. Jess decided to turn her tics into a source of imaginative, creative – I can’t say that – imaginative creativity and the Touretteshero project was born. Welcome Jess.

jess

Hello. Welcome. Fuck a goat. Biscuit. Hedgehog.

simon

And we also have Laurence Clark. Laurence is a comedian, presenter, writer and actor who has cerebral palsy. He’s performed everywhere from the House of Commons to a double decker bus in Sheffield and he’s had numerous solo shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. He’s appeared on the BBC, ITV, Channel Four, and was the subject of a major BBC One documentary called, ‘We Won’t Drop the Baby’.

laurence

Hi.

STEVE

So hi guys, so let’s kick off with our regular feature, it’s called Moment of the Month. Jess, have you got a moment of the month?

jess

Biscuit. My first moment of the month was the Unlimited Festival at the South Bank, biscuit, which was a showcase of new work by disabled artists and performers, biscuit, and I was lucky enough to be taking part alongside loads of amazing shows. Biscuit, hedgehog.

Simon

Didn’t you headline that show?

jess

Biscuit. I’m not sure I headlined, but I did take part in a late night cabaret called Unlimited Unleashed.

simon

Yes.

jess

Which was put together by Liz Carr, biscuit, and I’ve been listening and watching Liz’s work for years, biscuit, and I first saw her at the Liberty Festival, biscuit, several years ago, biscuit, and I remember sitting watching Liz Carr, I met Fraser at the Liberty Festival, do something quite similar like in terms of style to what happened at Unlimited, and it was eye opening for me and it was the first time, biscuit, I felt comfortable and included watching a show without risking being part of it. And so for me it was amazing being part of that show, it was amazing watching it, biscuit, and the whole festival had a really, biscuit, inclusive feeling and the only sadness is that it’s a biennial festival and that it doesn’t happen more often.

STEVE

Oh I thought it was…

simon

Oh is it biannual now?

laurence

Biannual.

jess

Unlimited is biannual, yes, biscuit. Biscuit. And so anyone who’s been to the South Bank, it’s not the most accessible building but what created the inclusive feeling about that event, biscuit, was the approach taken by the South Bank staff was the joy and the humour and the quality of the shows that had been put on, biscuit, but particularly with the cabaret, Unlimited Unleashed, biscuit, which included a freaks flash mob with all the performers, biscuit, chanting gooble gobble from the 1932 film, ‘Freaks’ which was incredible. Biscuit, hedgehog, biscuit. One of the things that made that particularly amazing was that everybody was trying something new and so there was loads of just crazy ideas.

Simon

Thank you, Jess. Laurence, moment of the month?

laurence

Okay, so my first one actually involves Jess. So I’m stretching the definition of a month to involve August.

Simon

That’s all right, yeah. Last month.

laurence

So when we were both at the Edinburgh Fringe I went to see Jess’ show which was amazing, it was great.

jess

It involved an ice skating panda. No sorry, it didn’t.

laurence

I don’t remember that bit.

Simon

I’m annoyed I’ve missed that show, I really am.

laurence

So I was watching it kind of partly the fact in my head thinking Tom, whose line was coming up and looking for things to take him to that he would like, apart from the odd bit about masturbation which it was over quite quickly so it would just go over his head.

STEVE

What’s that, the masturbation bit went over his head? There we go.

laurence

Apart from that I thought… Steve, you’ve got kids.

Steve

I’ve got kids.

laurence

Yeah, and do you find that the things your kids want to watch are the things with kind of 15 certificate, things that they’re not supposed to watch?

steve

Absolutely, no question, yeah.

laurence

And the minute you tell a kid they can’t watch something that just makes them want to watch it all the more. So I didn’t let them watch my show because my show involved me at one point shouting the C word and I thought that’s not a conversation I want to have at nine years old, but I let him watch Jess’ show and he loved it. She got him up on stage to read out some kind of medical jargon.

jess

My care plan, yes.

laurence

Yeah, which will probably scar him for the rest of his life. In 20 years’ time he’ll be rocking backwards and forwards on a psychiatrist’s couch talking about the time this woman got him up on stage.

jess

But he did know how to say the word, diazepam which was…

Laurence

He did.

simon

Interesting.

jess

The adult the day before had really struggled with that word and he’d just nailed it.

laurence

That’s what comes out.

simon

Very familiar.

laurence

You gave him a tee-shirt and he loved it and then he started saying biscuit.

jess

Hedgehog and biscuit.

laurence

And I was okay with that, I thought okay that’s, you know, kids like to imitate don’t they? Then he started doing the tic and I thought oh, I’m not quite comfortable with that.

jess

Which one? Like chest banging?

laurence

Yeah, and saying biscuit and banging the chest. And when I thought about it, it wasn’t malicious, I think he was really interested in you, having watched the show and imitation is a form of flattery.

SIMON

And he’s nine? You say he’s nine years old, yeah.

laurence

Yeah. We do get really, understandably sometimes we do get ((0:14:06?)) simulation, ((0:14:10?)) disabled people ((0:14:11?)).

jess

Biscuit, hedgehog. I think my feeling with stuff like that is if kids see something that’s interesting to them, biscuit, whether that’s a disabled person or an interesting hat or something that they haven’t seen before, they want to know more about it. Biscuit, sometimes kids do learn by copying stuff and some of that’s trying to work out how it feels. Biscuit, I work with children so them simulating tics is something that happens quite often, particularly toddlers on buses, they obviously think I’m just doing it for their amusement and because I’m a wheelchair user I’m often sat next to a child in a buggy who is just absorbed by the noises I’m making.

simon

So are we, so are we. I don’t think it goes. Just when we were coming in, but this thump that you do, I don’t know, do you call it a thump?

jess

Yeah, that’s a good word.

simon

And we were prepping for the show and Steve said something and I went yeah, yeah all right, and I thumped myself. And I’m like, what am I doing and this is rude or…? But it does it hurt? Do you get bruised?

jess

My chest bruised for about the first three months and then it gave up and I wear padded gloves to stop my knuckles getting cracked and bloody. But I think, biscuit, biscuit, Matthew, the co-founder of Touretteshero, when we first started Touretteshero, biscuit, he was explaining the idea to a friend of mine who has Tourettes and, biscuit, loads of people copy Tourettes, there’s loads of videos by people without Tourettes on YouTube. The ones that have had millions of hits are people pretending to have tics, biscuit, for the amusement of their friends. Biscuit, and Matthew describes to my friend Ruth the idea that he hoped that Touretteshero would create a time where people were pretending to have Tourettes or emulating tics, not because they were taking the mickey, but because they were identifying that it was interesting and cool and creative and they wanted a bit of that. And the behaviour was the same but the motivation was completely different.

steve

It’s quite a fine line though isn’t it? I mean it’s like my kids with you, they’ve known you a long time.

simon

So if you haven’t heard, I’m short, I’m three foot 11, one meter 20.

STEVe

Yeah, but…

SIMON

They’re the same size as me.

steve

Yeah, but my eldest one now always says I’m taller than you now.

simon

Yeah, I trip her over though.

Steve

Yeah you do. But I’m saying that when you’re on the street when you get kids looking at you in a different kind of way or teasing, or not teasing, but there is a fine line between imitation or…

jess

You say it’s a fine line, but I actually don’t ever experience it as a fine line, and it’s the same with laughter, biscuit, I’m used to it, people have laughed at my tics for years and I’ve had people laugh with my tics for years, and I always know the difference between someone laughing at me and laughing with me. And it’s the same as looking.

laurence

Jess came to my show.

jess

I did.

laurence

In Edinburgh.

jess

Bravery.

steve

Was she laughing at the wrong reasons?

laurence

We talked about it beforehand, we agreed that I would introduce her right at the start so that people were aware of how this performance was going to work. I still say it was one of the best shows I’ve ever done, I’m not often heckled, I’m never quite sure why that is, but Jess, it was like being heckled but you were finishing my sentences in weird and wonderful ways. Really surreal.

SIMON

You rewrote your show that night and kept some of them in.

laurence

Yeah.

jess

Biscuit, but I think my experience of watching comedy has sometimes been very difficult and I’ve been made to feel quite uncomfortable and like the sort of target or the focus of the show, biscuit, rather than just an audience member. And what was amazing about seeing Laurence’s show, and lots of other comedians where they’re skilled is they respond in a way that is natural and funny, biscuit, and their natural comic ability really shines. So I think people don’t need to be frightened of having an inclusive approach.

simon

So I read your blog, Laurence, about the show that Jess came to which kind of put it all together, although Jess, you’re everywhere at the moment, you’re kind of…

jess

I’m not in Nunhead right now.

simon

Yeah, you’re right.

jess

I’m not inside a camel’s testes.

steve

We can arrange that for you, don’t worry.

SIMON

That’s the post show party. And I read it, and it was what you were saying, Laurence, that was one of the best shows I did, the heckles were sometimes better than my own material and it was just a lovely thing going on, but I have to ask the question which sounds trite now, but both of you are doing performance, you are standing up in front of people doing your stuff, and both of you have got stuff going on with language stuff.

jess

Biscuit. Motherfucker.

simon

Thank you. That’s probably the right answer, I’ll take that on board.

jess

Aladdin.

simon

I don’t know, are you being what we call super crips? Are you just doing it and saying what the hell? Or is it a calling, you have to do it? Like comedians say I can’t do anything else, this is what I’m about?

jess

Biscuit. So for me, biscuit, talking to people about Tourettes and talking to people about my experience is a daily tool of living, whether that’s on the bus or whether that’s in an interview or on stage, biscuit, it’s useful because people having an increased understanding, biscuit, makes a tangible difference to my experience. So it feels worth doing and also, biscuit, my use of language is funny and weird.

steve

It’s great.

jess

And sharing that, it feels really good and to be able to invite people with and without Tourettes and with and without disabilities to think about that and enjoy that, it feels natural to me.

laurence

I’ve got another moment.

steve

Of course you have.

jess

Moment.

laurence

Because I’ve listened to the podcasts.

SIMON

Thank you.

STEVE

You’re the one?

laurence

Yeah, and this is the point in the show that you talk about air travel.

Steve

That’s my moment of the month!

simon

Oh no, we might clash over size.

steve

Go on.

laurence

So I thought I’d better talk about air travel. Every one. Every one. So after Edinburgh I went on holiday to Sharm El Sheikh.

jess

Hedgehog. To shake and vac.

laurence

Lots of shake and vac there.

jess

Put the freshness back in the pan.

laurence

Two things about it, firstly because it was somewhere I’d been before but before I booked with an accessible and a disabled people’s travel agents and it was really nice and great and accessible but it cost a fortune. So this time I booked the same hotel and the same flight but I did it myself. Admittedly there was a bit of a language barrier and for a long time I thought I’d booked two rooms where I’d only booked one room and had I not spotted this it would have been a surprise when we arrived.

jess

Cosy.

laurence

But it worked out about 50 to a hundred quid cheaper. So I know we’re always moaning about massive mark ups on products and services for disabled people and yeah.

steve

Was it easier though? Was it worth the stress?

simon

Yes, exactly.

laurence

For 50 to a hundred quid it probably was. That is a hell of a lot of money.

STEVE

About a thousand. Give us a price.

 

[playing music]

simon

Okay, so before Steve and I do our moment of the month we’re going to lose Laurence, he’s got to get a train back to Liverpool so we’re going to do…

steve

Hopefully not a plane back, you’re not getting a plane back?

laurence

No.

simon

We’re going to do his product review before he goes. So Laurence, we didn’t send the items this time, it was all a bit rushed, this whole show is all a bit rushed, but you had got the product and I mean just give me your initial impressions or maybe describe it for people who are listening. What is it?

laurence

So it’s white, it’s metal, there’s a handle that you squeeze and that squeezes two round things and it’s got some sharp blades that come up as well. And it is an egg cracker and separator.

jess

It’s for milking Pacman.

Steve

You could do that but the description of it is: effortlessly cracks eggs in one single handed motion. And it keeps shell pieces out of your food mixtures, keeps egg content away from hands.

laurence

The problem is I crack eggs anyway.

SIMON

When you don’t want to.

laurence

Yeah!

steve

What about the separating of the yolk, the eggs, the egg white?

simon

Yeah, they’ll always separate everywhere.

jess

Separate all over your head.

steve

With one hand motion, Laurence.

laurence

Some of it separates into the bowl, some of it doesn’t.

steve

But this is what I was saying to you, Simon, is that do you crack an egg on the table or on the pan?

laurence

Yeah, I usually just drop it into a bowl.

jess

I tend to use head or chest.

SIMON

Oh really? Okay.

steve

So you always bang with your right hand?

jess

I bang with both hands but…

steve

So you could put an egg in each hand.

jess

Yes, eggs tend to go just straight on my scalp.

laurence

One on each boob.

jess

Not until they’re fried.

simon

Laurence is quite happy to stay for another five minutes now. Now he’s found that out.

jess

Eggs to tit, the egg to tit ratio is more exciting than a band aid sticker. Hedgehog.

simon

So who’s this for?

Steve

It’s not for Laurence then?

simon

No.

Steve

No, but on there it says for anyone, it’s for anyone.

simon

Okay but…

jess

But bits of shell in food is a bit of a pain.

laurence

I can see how if you had difficulty cracking eggs which I don’t then this would be very useful.

steve

Would you think of any changes to it? Is there anything you would change on it, although you’ve never used it and tried it?

jess

Try a wristband.

laurence

Well, you can’t make an omelette. It seems to work pretty… I’ve not actually tried it.

steve

No that’s true.

SIMON

Yes that’s the bit.

laurence

So if we did have some eggs.

SIMON

That was our fault.

laurence

But then we’d have a messy studio. But yeah it seems to work quite well.

Steve

And we’re going to rate it. That’s going to cost you £10 of your hard earned money so if you’d rate it out of ten, Laurence, what would you give it out of ten?

Laurence

I love eggs, so eight out of ten.

SIMON

Jess?

jess

It’s difficult to rate something without seeing it doing its actual job.

SIMON

Yes, that’s our fault.

jess

But for the idea, seven out of ten.

simon

Nice. Steve Best?

steve

Okay, I’d go for seven.

Simon

I like it.

jess

Dramatic content.

Simon

No, I’m not going to say that I never spill shell but it’s always going to happy to me from now on, I think you’re right, I want to give it a try but in principle, seven.

steve

I tell you what I think really is to separate the egg white if you’re doing some proper cooking.

simon

Yeah, proper cooking, baking.

steve

Proper cooking, which I never really do.

jess

Hedgehog. Great British Tintin. It’s like Great British Bake Off but with Tintin in a microwave.

SIMON

That would work, I’m liking it.

steve

Seven out of ten for that.

laurence

I would watch that.

simon

So that’s seven, seven, seven, eight.

steve

Seven, seven, seven, eight.

simon

Thank you so much, Laurence.

laurence

Pretty good.

simon

As you’re going to go, what are you doing next? Where can we see you?

laurence

I’m having a break from gigging at the moment so I’m writing a pilot sitcom called ‘Perfect’ for Radio Four at the moment.

simon

Cool.

laurence

And then the next few gigs, ‘Moments of Instant Regret’, my Edinburgh show is, I’m not touring it but I’m doing it at DadaFest on 5th December.

simon

Is that Liverpool?

laurence

That’s in Liverpool, and then Leicester Comedy Festival at Embrace Arts in February and hopefully Soho Theatre as well in February.

simon

Cool.

laurence

We’re just doing a few dates so that people that didn’t get to see it at Edinburgh can catch up with it.

steve

Lovely. Thank you very much, Laurence.

simon

Thank you so much for coming, Laurence.

laurence

Cheers, thanks a lot.

jess

Biscuit. Bye-bye, Laurence. Biscuit. Don’t put a sheep inside the otter’s pyjamas.

 

[playing music]

steve

So Simon, you said you’ve got a second moment of the month, Mr Minty?

simon

So I went to buy a bike, I’ve been trying to lose a bit of weight and doing some other healthy things and one of them is to do cycling.

steve

Is this an exercise bike or a bike?

simon

No, a bike to go on the road.

steve

Okay.

simon

As I’ve explained I am short and also I don’t have any balance so it would have to be a three wheeler bike, a tricycle I think they’re called, these are really hard to find. I spent a lot of time, there are some disabled websites that kind of point you in the right direction, but there was another one, a sort of handmade type thing, and I went to the shop, it’s in Great Portland Street in central London, I phoned 12 different bike shops and none of them had them and I wanted to go and try it otherwise they’re saying oh you order it and they deliver it and I’m like, well that’s no good, I need to give it a try. And the shop were fabulous, they were with me for about 40 minutes and we put different saddles on, we moved things differently around. I should describe the bike, this is the problem, which is it’s really small obviously, it’s a child’s tricycle, it’s bright yellow and then it’s got big bright red mudguards on all the wheels and obviously it’s got a little front brake as well. And I then went out in the street, they let me have a little go round and by the way my legs don’t move very well so this was quite problematic and painful, and there was one point when I tried to turn round, I couldn’t turn round, I was just on the pavement, I just couldn’t turn the bike and peddle.

steve

Tricycles are hard to ride.

simon

Apparently only one wheel drives it and I turned the wrong way and then there were people standing outside the BBC saying “Shall we give you a push?” “No,” I said, “I’ve got to learn, I’ve got to learn.” I’m a 40 year old man and I’ve got to learn how to rid this…

steve

46, Simon.

simon

Yeah, well I meant… thanks for that.

jess

Technical detail.

simon

I showed it to my colleague Phil, and he got really angry with me, he said, “What are you using that for, what the and duh, duh, duh” and I said, “I want to use it,” and he said “just get an exercise bike.” And he called me the next day and he apologised and he said, “I had flashbacks to special school, kids with disabilities being put on these things that weren’t appropriate” and he couldn’t bear it. So his anger was actually very supportive of me. The interesting bit, I didn’t buy it in the end because I knew it wasn’t quite right and I’m going to have to look at maybe getting my own one made for me, and they said, “we’ve just sold a bike to Andrew Marr recently.” Andrew Marr is the BBC presenter who had a stroke maybe a year or two ago and he’s just started riding again so they had to sort of adapt a bike slightly for him.

steve

Why would he need a tricycle, Andrew Marr?

simon

I’m trying to remember. He hasn’t got use of his left arm. I think he’s got some limited stuff now.

steve

Were they more expensive?

simon

Because it’s sort of custom made for children, I mean it still comes in one size, but it was about £400, so I don’t know, I mean it doesn’t sound outrageous for a bike because bikes can cost thousands.

jess

There’s an amazing organisation, biscuit, called Wheels for Wellbeing, I don’t know if you’ve come across them.

simon

I need to.

jess

Biscuit, they’ve got loads of different accessible bikes, they’re based in London and they are about accessible cycling and you can go and, biscuit, I know they’ve got sessions in the borough where I work in Lambeth and in Croydon, I’ve taken groups of kids to them and yeah, loads of different types of cycles.

simon

Do you think they’d have a bike for people like me?

jess

I think it would be worth getting in touch with them and asking them because if they don’t they might have an idea where you could go. And it’s great, I love it because you can go and try loads of different bikes, but they’ve got loads of different types and I think they’re quite creative in sourcing them.

simon

There’s a little bit which… I mean we’ve spoken to some of the listeners but how do I explain it? I had to go to a meeting afterwards and so I had a proper jacket on and shirt and everything and as Steve said, I’m a 46 year old man, on this seven year old child’s bike with all these bright colours trying to go up and down the street and the bit of this dignity thing, how do you retain your dignity being a disabled person? And sometimes you can’t. For me in my head I’m like I don’t care if everyone’s going to look because what I’m trying to do is find a bike, we’d already decided we were going to re-spray it, we’d take all those mudguards off, there’d be a whole load of things that I would change, but there was this moment of I had no dignity, particularly when I’m trying to turn and I can’t move the bike back or forth in central London.

steve

But wouldn’t that be kind of anybody trying to learn to ride a bike would lose a slight bit of dignity if they’re bumping into things, it’s not to do necessarily with disability.

simon

No, you’re right, just falling off a bike, absolutely, but there’s a difference in that I am an adult on a child’s trike and I can’t even turn a corner.

jess

Yeah, I think that thing of having an end goal in mind and being clear about why you’re doing something, and I think sometimes dignity, sometimes dignity is overrated in that it can get in the way of you doing things that are better for you.

simon

Exactly.

jess

But yeah, I definitely relate to that.

simon

That was my moment of the month.

steve

A nice moment.

simon

Steve Best, do you have a moment?

steve

Well kind of, as we said in the intro, Simon Minty, you had a fantastic profile piece in ‘The Guardian’.

simon

Yeah, the newspaper.

steve

The newspaper, and it was great, talking about the podcast and other things.

simon

The show, yes.

steve

Yeah, and about the show and I somehow kind of felt left out of that a little bit!

simon

Yes, it’s getting a bit awkward now.

steve

We can laugh about it now. But it was just interesting the take on it, and I understand where they were coming from, but it was kind of a reversed… because we’ve always had this thing with Abnormally Funny People that we had this token non-disabled person to have a certain point of view which is a non-disabled point of view of what’s going on.

simon

Yes.

steve

And you mentioned it and it was all about that in that sense and yet they didn’t mention… they mentioned it but didn’t mention me by name which was quite strange.

simon

And it’s sort of not the first time is it? Because we’ve done a few things and they get a little bit excited about me and Steve is a very polite, humble, non showey-offy type of person…

steve

Thank you very much.

simon

So you could quite naturally, bearing in mind you’re a stand-up comedian there is a contradiction there, but you could naturally step back, but the bit that’s happened to you when we’ve had television documentaries, when the people were writing articles, somehow you get bumped out or you become less. And you are co-founder of the show, you are the co-host of this, you’ve been an integral part of Abnormally Funny People all the way through.

steve

Which in itself in a way you would have thought, interesting’s not a very good word, but it is kind of a story.

simon

Nice?

steve

Yes, nice and interesting, the fact that we’ve known each other for a long time, from school, and we’ve built this up and we’ve come from different angles into this and that’s part of what we are and it’s half of what we are in that sense.

jess

It’s a similar issue that I’ve had, I co-founded Touretteshero with my colleague, Matthew Pountney who’s non-disabled, and I co-wrote and co-developed our show, ‘Backstage in Biscuit Land’ with Jess Mabel Jones who’s an amazing puppeteer and performer and with Matthew.

simon

Is she with Beauty and the Beast?

jess

Yes, biscuit, but with articles it tends to focus on me as a performer and part of that is because Tourettes is central to our show and central to Touretteshero and it makes sense for me to, biscuit, speak about my experiences and speak about Tourettes, but I think there is something in, biscuit, how disability is packaged sometimes in that within media maybe that it’s easier to be that this is a story about a confident, articulate, disabled person achieving all this stuff and doing all this stuff.

steve

I don’t do either of them, he laughs, uncomfortably.

jess

And talking about how people come together in an inclusive way to make amazing things happen can, biscuit, be a more complicated story to tell.

steve

Yes, it’s a simpler approach and easier for their readers, although readers are clever enough to get what’s going on, but I think that’s the kind of piece they wanted to portray a lot of the times.

jess

But there aren’t loads of things about how those partnerships, collaborations and creative processes come about, that’s not a story that you see very often because it’s not, you know, simple or doesn’t fall into the way that things are traditionally portrayed. Biscuit, and I think what’s amazing is that that’s still happening, people are still coming together, disabled and nondisabled people and doing really interesting stuff, but it’s a shame that perhaps some of those nuances get missed when things are presented.

 

[playing music]

simon

So Jess, we have given you our product.

jess

Weapon, forward slash weaponry!

simon

You did warn me, I gave it to you and you said is it going to be something that I can hit people with? And it wasn’t a suggestion, you were just worried that you might happen to do that.

jess

Yeah.

simon

But so far so good. Could you describe it?

jess

Hedgehog. Jousting. Biscuit. Well it looks a bit like a light sabre as is the first thing, if we’re allowed to mention that.

simon

Of course you are, Star Wars.

jess

Biscuit, Star Wars. Motherfucker. Hedgehog. So it’s got a see-through tube, it’s got a handle at one end which is heavier and there’s a switch which I know if you…

simon

Oh wow.

jess

Biscuit, it sounds like a dust buster which basically it’s a little hoover but not powerful enough to pick up bubble wrap as I discovered when I was experimenting with it. It’s got a cap at the end which you can undo and it is for hovering up insects. It’s pretty straightforward in that that’s what it does, although the description of it, biscuit, gives quite detailed instructions as to how to approach different types of insect, whether they are spiders or crawling insects or flying insects. So, biscuit, you do need a bit of an induction, biscuit, but essentially the idea is that you hoover them up, you put the cap on and then you take them outside and let them go. Biscuit. I wouldn’t have said that this was something that I would have loads of use for although I actually wrote a whole blog post about in the middle of the night when my support worker was asleep, well my sister actually was supporting me that night, and she was asleep and I didn’t really want to wake her up and there was a huge big bug next to my bed and I was like, biscuit, am I going to be able to put this in something and carry it outside without dropping it, crawling along the floor in the middle of the night? And this would have been quite useful at that point. I’d just read…

steve

What did you do?

jess

Well actually I’d just read a book by sort of wobbly actress, Francesca Martinez, ‘What the Fuck is Normal’, and I’d been reading it just before this happened and she’d just told a bully to get lost and so I was feeling particularly inspired so I tackled the creature myself, biscuit. In the morning I suddenly realised that I wasn’t sure whether it actually really existed or whether I’d hallucinated the whole thing.

steve

It was a big sultana or something.

jess

But yeah, this would have somewhat solved the problem, although for me I’ve got very poor limb control and this would probably have ended up waking my sister when I was hitting it against the radiators and walls on the way out.

simon

It’s a perfect length for me and I should tell people, yes it’s called a Bug Buster. You said it’s humane, it’s a humane spider catcher that really works. Simply point it at the spider, this is where it gets a bit weird, press the button and wham! Yeah okay, the spider is sucked up safely in the tube, you tip it upside down outside and off it goes, which is exactly what you said.

jess

They really emphasise the speed with which the spiders get sucked up, the speed is described in several different ways but is obviously quite quick. But again, like with the eggs, we haven’t had a chance to test this with a real…

steve

We haven’t got a spider in here.

jess

Spider or fly which…

steve

It’s too cold for spiders in here.

simon

They’re very clean these studios, they’re far too clean.

jess

Yeah, I heard September was a good spider month but I was looking around and didn’t find any.

steve

There’s a little thing that you can add to it, not that, that’s the lid, but there’s a little suction for smaller ones I think as well, you can add bits to it.

jess

For ants.

steve

Yeah, it’s like the hoover where you can add attachments.

jess

Can you do one for a hippopotamus?

steve

If it was a small hippopotamus, a light one.

simon

An industrial sucking… It’s humane isn’t it, that’s the point?

jess

It’s humane, biscuit, and for some people it’s going to work really well and particularly if you’re not fond of spiders. I’m not particularly bothered by them.

steve

There’s a lot of people who are not fond of spiders.

jess

It’s definitely going to…

steve

But it’s true.

simon

I’ve got a few friends…

steve

A lot of people really don’t like spiders but people just tend to kill them, I like the idea of not killing them.

jess

You could also use it for jousting.

simon

I was going to say, what else can you use it for? Any other ideas?

jess

Biscuit. For spinning an egg, biscuit, you could use it for stirring a pot of butter. You could use it for milking Mother Teresa’s horse. You could use it for masturbating a tortoise.

simon

There we go. I think all of those.

steve

But you could actually combine that with the egg and if you spill a bit of shell accidently that doesn’t work then you could suck up the bit of shell in the Bug Buster.

jess

It really isn’t that powerful.

steve

For my glasses. No.

jess

No, it’s not even going to do the paper.

simon

Okay, so it’s got to be quite light hasn’t it? So if there were improvements, anything you would suggest if you wanted to tweak it a bit?

jess

Biscuit. Go faster stripes and a pair of dungarees, that’s what I’m suggesting.

steve

That would look nice. But you’ve got a point there about the strength of it, it’s not very good for someone in Australia or South America…

simon

With a big tarantula.

steve

Big old spiders, it’s not going to do that is it?

jess

You could have like different power settings depending on the country that you’re operating it in.

steve

I wonder if… what’s the big hoover company?

simon

Dyson?

Steve

Dyson, I wonder if Dyson will come out with a Bug Buster.

simon

Yeah, but don’t forget there is that word, ‘humane’ we still want to keep, so they’re not going to get sucked into some violent hurricane and all their limbs fall off as they go up.

steve

The black hole bug buster.

jess

I feel like it’s a fairly niche area I think. It’s great that a product like that exists for some people but I don’t think it’s going to be an area that there’s going to be lots of research.

simon

I agree, but I think the products that we always have, they’re sort of aimed at something very specific. They’re inventions that sometimes you don’t realise you needed solving but once you use them you go, oh there’s an idea, and that’s exactly it. But this will cost you £12. If you were giving it a rating out of ten what would you score this?

jess

Six if it was a velociraptor’s udder. Yeah, probably six.

simon

Six is good.

jess

Even as a non velociraptor udder.

simon

Yeah, what we didn’t do was ask Laurence, so could you give another score pretending you’re Laurence, but not doing his voice, we’ll get in trouble.

jess

Biscuit. Laurence. Laurence would certainly give it 82.2. He would probably give it seven because he’s a more generous scorer than me as we discovered in the last round.

simon

Steve Best?

steve

I’m going to give it eight, I actually quite like it.

jess

Nine.

steve

Not that much, eight.

jess

Eight. Nine.

steve

Eight.

jess

Ten. 42.

simon

Okay, I’m adding all these up now.

jess

What’s your pin number? Hello. Six.

simon

I don’t know what to give it now because you’ve suggested so many numbers I got a bit confused.

jess

Eight.

simon

Yes, eight. Thank you.

steve

Jess, it’s been lovely having you on the programme this month.

jess

Oh, thank you for having me, it’s been great to be here. Cat.

steve

And what are you doing in the next month, day?

jess

Biscuit. Well, biscuit, I am having a bit of a break, we’ve just finished a run of shows at Battersea Arts Centre, biscuit, which was amazing but I’m going to be at DaDaFest in December as well. I’m doing a show in St Helen’s Library, biscuit, which is in Merseyside in October, biscuit.

steve

Don’t you have to be quiet in a library?

jess

Well, biscuit, it was a gig that I was not going to turn down, it’s not very often that someone with Tourettes gets invited to the library, so I’m really excited about that, biscuit and then, hedgehog, yeah, you’ll see more from Touretteshero.com and hopefully we’ll do some stuff in the run up to Christmas and yeah, watch out for me on Channel Four because I’ve been doing some continuity, biscuit, announcing the links between programmes and hopefully, biscuit, I’ll be back doing some of that this autumn.

simon

Very cool. We didn’t quite nail, there was a bit about Laurence’s blog when you came to his show and so on, and I know you’ve had experience of going to other people’s shows and from our conversation you normally let them know and so on. I’ve heard of something called relaxed performances.

jess

Yes.

simon

Now for me this is anyone can go, if they make noises it’s all okay, it’s a bit like the British Sign Language thing, I worry about them, I love the idea, but my worry is does that mean you can go once a month in that run and if you can’t make that date…?

jess

Well that’s my worry too and I think relaxed performance is only part of the answer, biscuit, all our shows at Edinburgh were relaxed and I think relaxed performances are really useful. And when I’ve been thinking about this recently I’ve realised that one of the reasons that they’re useful, biscuit, is because it says we have thought about you, we have thought about the fact that some people might not able to be quiet or still and we’ve put a relaxed performance as part of our run to acknowledge that. Therefore, biscuit, if I wasn’t able to make that date I would feel more confident about being able to say I can’t make this show but I would like to come on another day. It doesn’t take a lot of extra expense to make a show relaxed, all it takes is the sort of approach and attitude and knowledge and therefore I hope that it would then make people feel more comfortable in explaining their access needs to a venue.

simon

I like your point that if they’ve got one it shows they’re already thought about it. Oh, it annoys me but I’m going to ask you anyway, presumably - we’re talking about dignity – presumably you’ve had a couple of times where have they not treated you appropriately?

jess

Yes.

simon

I mean how do you react to that and how do you get over that?

jess

Well, biscuit, it depends when it’s happened, at what point I am in my life and in confidence. Biscuit. I suppose the starting point for our Edinburgh show, or centrally to our Edinburgh show was a very difficult experience I had at a theatre where I was asked to move to a sound booth because people were complaining about the noises I was making, they were threatening not to come back, and that was a show where the performer was very onside, where he’d explained at the start that I was in the audience and that I’d done everything I could to make that work and so when it didn’t I was gutted and I absolutely sobbed. And I in that moment vowed never to go back to the theatre again, and biscuit, I’m very pleased that that’s not a promise that I kept because I’ve had amazing, positive experiences, biscuit, at loads of venues and theatres subsequently. But for me personally, biscuit, what I always do is speak to the person, the performer and the theatre beforehand and I feel like conversations are, biscuit, a really important part of making it work and I think with any access being open about what you need, biscuit, and being clear about how you want them to respond if certain things happen is important.

simon

But you are clearly confident, your show is around all of those things, but I’ve had it, if we go back to planes, but sometimes when I’ve been treated a certain way it really knocks you. I mean you can be the most confident person in the world but then something happens and you know that’s disability related and poor soul or whatever and just inside you’re like… I don’t know, maybe you can keep it all strong all of the time but then just one thing just tips it.

jess

But that’s also why particularly with cultural spaces, it’s like, biscuit, in addition to the show that we did, taking the show to Edinburgh as Touretteshero we also ran an event in partnership with Tate Britain called ‘We Forgot the Lot’ which was a big children’s event which was about again reclaiming the sort of cultural space there and giving access to children and families who might not feel confident accessing those spaces. Aladdin.

simon

Thank you so much. Aladdin I like.

jess

Hedgehog. Biscuit.

simon

If you do get a chance to see Jess, you’ve said where it’s going, I’ve heard nothing but amazing stuff and I’m really annoyed that I haven’t seen you perform properly but I’ve just heard awesome things. So thank you so much, thank you very much for coming.

jess

Cool, thank you.

steve

Yes, thank you very much, lovely.

jess

Cat. Motherfucker.

 

[playing music]

simon

Now, the most exciting bit of the show, the thing that gets all of you listeners excited, it’s competition time.

steve

We’re going to offer each of today’s items as its own prize, so to win you need to contact us with your answer to the following sentence. I want the, because. So I want the Bug Buster because or I want the egg cracker because. Both great products they were, I thought.

simon

Very good. If you want to enter the competition, or if you just want to say hello to us here are the ways you can contact us. Email is podcast@abnormallyfunnypeople. We’re on Twitter if you search for Abnormally Funny People and if you prefer you can even call and leave a voice mail or send us a text. The telephone number, 07756 190561. I’ll say that one more time, 07756 190561. If you didn’t get it all down go to our website, abnormallyfunnypeople.com and all the information will be there.

steve

Unfortunately at this point we can only send the prizes to people in the UK. Debbie knows that as her item is on its way! If you’re listening overseas, welcome, but sorry. Closing date for this month is Monday 20th October.

simon

And in our next show which will be our fifth podcast we’re going to announce the winner or hopefully winners. Come on Debbie, do it again, you’re on a roll.

steve

Drop us a line with your thoughts and comments, we’d love to hear from you. You can get hold of us via email, podcast@abnormallyfunnypeople.com.

simon

And as we’ve said our website, abnormallyfunnypeople.com. It’s got all the social media links, telephone numbers, it’ll have photos of the show as well.

steve

A big thank you goes to Really Useful Stuff who supplied the items, you can check out what they do via their website, reallyusefulstuff.co.

simon

And so you don’t miss us do subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or if you prefer to stream it, Audioboo is the place to go. A big thank you finally to our producer, Anne.

steve

Thank you very much, Anne. And thanks for listening.

[playing music]

 

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