Autograph - Lee Ridley | Living North

Autograph - Lee Ridley

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Newcastle Quayside
Lee Ridley is a journalist and comedian without a voice. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after falling into a coma when he was six months old, he uses an iPad to deliver his stand-up routine. Lee was born in Consett and lives and works in Newcastle

I couldn’t do without my communication aid, for obvious reasons. It’s quite hard to get your point across when you haven’t got any way to communicate. Luckily technology has helped me in that respect, although it is still pretty frustrating when I can’t say what I want instantly. However, I also think I’d be lost without my sense of humour. Let’s face it, living with a disability would be so much worse if you couldn’t see the funny side every once in a while.

I’m inspired to get up in the morning by the fact that my life is pretty good. I have the best family and friends I could hope for, I have a job that I enjoy, my venture into comedy has given me so many amazing opportunities and I’m healthy. Sure, I have my ups and downs, but so does everyone. I’m very lucky to be in a position where everything is OK. Who wouldn’t want to get up if they had all of that?

The best view in the North East is the view of the bridges over the Tyne. When you’ve been away, nothing is more welcoming than that view. When I see the bridges I know that I’m back where I belong.

My favourite film is the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It still manages to hold my attention throughout. Roald Dahl is one of my heroes and I just love all his books, even today. This film reminds me of how great he was and what an imagination he had. It’s just perfect.

Being asked by Ross Noble, one of my comedy idols, to warm up for him at a gig definitely has to be one of my proudest achievements. That was an amazing moment in my life. I’m also proud of going to university and becoming much more independent, because I know that that made my family and my teachers proud. It’s nice to think that all their efforts paid off.

Something no one else knows about me? I can talk really. I’m just in it for the disabled parking space.

Princess Diana came to visit our school once so I guess she’s the most famous person I’ve ever met. Not that I can remember much about it because it was a long time ago. I also once said hello to Bobby Robson but he was eating so I didn’t want to bother him. In hindsight, I wish I had. He was such a great man.

If I hadn’t been a comedian I’d have been a journalist. I love writing and I always have, so being a journalist was all I ever wanted to do. I’m lucky enough to have been able to try both careers.

If you could travel in time, I’d go back and have a word with my younger self about some of my tastes in fashion.

My most treasured possession is my ability to make people laugh.

A lot of things make me frustrated, I’m not sure if I get really mad often though. Obviously having a disability means that I find some things more difficult to do than others. For example, sometimes it takes a while to put my shoes on. If I try for too long, I start to get frustrated and angry at how useless I can be sometimes.

In ten years time, I’d love to be doing stand-up full time. It’s a tough business though so we’ll just have to see what happens!

If I could swap places with one person for a day, I’d genuinely love to know what goes on in Ross Noble’s head.

I think The Stand Comedy Club in Newcastle is the North East’s best kept secret. It certainly doesn’t get the credit it deserves. We are so lucky to have it right on our doorstep. Not only does it provide us with the best stand-up on offer but the venue is just perfect for comedy nights. On top of that, they serve great food and the staff are as friendly as can be. I’ve met some great people by going there – everyone should check it out.

When travelling I pack almost everything. I’m not good at travelling light. Which isn’t ideal when you’re off around the country gigging every weekend...

Published in: November 2013

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