Lost Voice Guy wins Britain’s Got Talent

Not that I usually pay any attention to Britain’s Got Talent, but I must say how happy I am with the incredible news that Lost Voice Guy, Lee Ridley, won the show last night. I got wind of it last night just as I was going to bed. From what I’ve seen of him, Ridley is a great guy with a good sense of humour. He opened

Communication Works two years ago. In a way he does what I try to do through writing in his stand-up act: he shows people the world from his point of view in a self-knowing, ironic way. Lee’s strength is that he is unafraid to make fun of himself, taking up prejudices and assumptions people may have about people like ‘us’ and throwing them back at them.

The only problem I have with that is, when they are presented as comedy as Ridley does, they become just an act – something light-hearted and throw away. In order to examine the position of people with disabilities in the real world, you have to go deep: that’s why I have kept plugging away at my blog for the last fifteen years. What Ridley does is all well and good, but to a certain extent, he merely plays the crip-card – ”look at me, I’m the funny spazz” – without presenting anything new or original. Yes, there’s irony in what he says, but how deep is his knowledge and analysis really? Frankly, the jokes he makes are the same ones my Communication-aid using mates and I have told for twenty year; Ridley just presents them to a fresh audience. To become the self-knowing soothsayer Ridley seems to want to present himself as requires much, much more. And, as Lyn pointed out when I reported this news to her on my way to bed last night, you have to wonder whether he didn’t simply win through pity.

I don’t want to seem too critical or curmudgeonly – this is indeed great news and a huge step forward for VOCA users – but it would seem the cultural critic in me cannot be silenced.

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