By Marissa Burgess
Manchester Evening News 16.11.06
IT’S unsurprising that some children have a bad memory of Jim’ll Fix It; the kid’s wish fulfilment show hosted by a scarecrow-like man with candy floss hair, polyester track suit and emitting a noise akin to a broken burglar alarm.
But none more so than comedian Laurence Clark who has used his experience on the TV programme as the basis for his latest show.
“My class at school made it onto Jim’ll Fix It in 1990. The fix-it was meant be a helicopter coming to take away our French teacher. A simple enough request you might think?
“But Jim spoilt it by telling him, thinking it’d look better if it was us, the disabled kids, being surprised instead. It was all a bit patronising and we didn’t even get Jim’ll Fix It badges!” Clark recalls incredulously.
Though Clark gets to vent spleen about his TV experience in his show, it also enables him to talk about other issues he has had to address because of his cerebral palsy and how he came to terms with the condition.
“The show uses my Jim’ll Fix It obsession to explore my experiences of growing up and becoming comfortable with being disabled. To a certain extent all comics draw upon their life experiences for material. You get so much crap thrown at you as a disabled person… I’d be a fool not to use it,” he explains.
The show also covers Clark’s more recent life experiences such as proposing, marriage and starting a family. So how does his wife feel about appearing in the material in his show?
“I always try stuff out on her before putting it in my act. She’s very understanding and has never told me not to use something – although there’s always a first time,” he confesses.
And soon after marriage Clark’s wife became pregnant and gave birth to a little boy. So how’s fatherhood suiting him?
“My son was two the other week – the time just flies by. At first being a father was a shock, as it’s the most responsibility I’ve ever had. But you soon get used to it. I tend not to stay overnight nowadays if I’m doing a gig so that I’m always there when Tom wakes in the morning.”
But Clark has taken to balancing family life and work with aplomb.
This year he took Jim Fixed It For Me to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and received rave reviews. He gigs regularly despite some opposition – he can’t play some clubs simply because “the majority are inaccessible to wheelchairs” and he finally got an agent a year ago, a struggle as previously “no one would touch me”.
Though the most famous moment in his career so far occurred when he met the PM’s missus Cherie Blair whose faux pas garnered column inches.
“She called me a ‘sit-down’ comic when I did a gig at Labour Party Conference last year. It wasn’t really offensive, just a really predictable gag that loads of other people had used before. Still, being the butt of her crap joke got me loads of publicity, so as far as Cherie goes I can’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” Clark laughs.
Beyond Jim Fixed It For Me, Clark is already thinking about the next show.
“I’m just starting writing a new show around the concept of `care’ which has different connotation for disabled and non-disabled people.
“For example, I’ll compare a couple of my relationships: My personal assistant is the bloke who pushes my wheelchair, carries my bags and shaves me. My wife is the woman who gives me love, support, and regular hot, passionate sex.
“According to the English language the same word, ‘care’ is used to describe them both, but those are two relationships that you really don’t want to confuse.” Now that would make family breakfasts awkward.
Laurence Clark performs Jim Fixed It For Me again at the Exchange Studio on Saturday, December 9.