Last night, Joke for Scope came to Manchester to host a night of incredible stand-up at the Stoller Hall, all with a good cause in mind.
Scope is a charity working towards disability equality in England and Wales, and their shows feature an array of disabled and able-bodied comedians alike. Joke for Scope throw brilliant comedy nights, amplifying the voices of disabled people and helping to break down barriers.
Aaron Simmonds hosted the evening, BBC New Comedy Award finalist in 2017, as well as Jewish Comedian of the Year. Aaron wonderfully guided us through the night, keeping things moving and entertaining the audience, ready for our first act of the night.
Britain’s Got Talent winner, Lee Ridley, AKA the outrageously funny Lost Voice Guy emerged on stage and began his set. For those that are unaware, Lost Voice Guy’s set is a pre-written script played out by his iPad. As a result, Lost Voice Guy has developed a knack for timing, knowing exactly when to play the next joke and when to let the audience sit in anticipation.
He explored the woes and laughable moments of his cerebral palsy. He poked fun at politics and attacked the Conservative Party’s war against disabled people. He quipped about benefit cuts and having to hide his prize winnings offshore, and how people compare him to Stephen Hawking and whether he has ever just “tried to talk”. Whilst at times his humour can leave you thinking “am I allowed to laugh at this?”, he’s enjoyable and a thoroughly good listen, so make sure to catch him on tour this Autumn.
Following him was Luisa Omielan, whose debut show What would Beyonce Do?! became a hit at Fringe Festival’s around the world, with seven sell out runs at London’s Soho Theatre.
Luisa confidently came out, informing us that she had absolutely no material. so we were lucky that she is just naturally funny. From millennial porn (it’s Rightmove by the way) to her Mother’s death and growing up with her disabled brother, Luisa did not disappoint. Things got a little dark, but she took it in her stride. Although, it was a shame we couldn’t talk more about the Game of Thrones finale.
After Luisa and the last act of the first half was Tez Ilyas, a natural born comic with a knack for reading the crowd. Tez bounced off their energy and played on what we had to share. He worked in his own family history, Islamophobia and the lads on tour in Benidorm.
His slick humour and excellent patter showed us why Tez was the Chortle Best Breakthrough Nominee of 2017, as well as landing on the BBC New Talent Hot List that same year.
Following a short intermission and a brief segment with Aaron Simmonds, Italian comedian Romina Puma opened the stage back up with a foray into toilet humour and the benefits of dating whilst on crutches. She played on her name Puma, actually being more of a cougar, and the attitudes she gets whilst using her wheelchair. Although toilet humour may not be for me, Romina’s amicable nature and pleasant personality made the audience warm to her instantly.
The evening closed with Tanyalee Davis, a Canadian comic with diastrophic dysplasia. Tanyalee clued us up the tribulations scooter-users face, letting us know about an altercation with Great Western Railway whilst making quips about how awful British trains really are. She talked about relationships, dropping another GoT reference with how much her partner likes the Khaleesi, as well as giving us an insight into how Edinburgh Fringe can go down when you have several disabled comics share one space.
Overall, the night was tremendous fun and took place in a lovely venue. Make sure to check out the good work that Scope do and keep an eye out for the next Joke for Scope event here.
Also, make sure to check out Tanyalee’s Scooter Girl campaign. It champions scooter rights and holds transport companies in the UK accountable for the mistreatment of disabled people.