A LOCAL comedian who is also a wheelchair user is calling on performers to get involved in a night aiming to celebrate difference and inclusion.

Sam Judd, 25, is organising a night of comedy at the Rockwell Community Centre in Thorpe Edge in March, and is appealing for other comics with disabilities to sign up.

Sam, who lives in Headingley in Leeds, said it is an opportunity for comedians who may have a tougher time breaking into the mainstream, due to the barriers they face.

“I want the event to be a celebration of disability and difference,” said Sam.

“Having a disability takes a toll on you, but we have to focus on our strengths – otherwise we’ll go mad.

“This night will show that disabled people are not to be disregarded, and will aim to inspire those struggling to embrace their differences and show them they’re not alone.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Sam performing at a gigSam performing at a gig (Image: Sam Judd)

Sam had a brainstem stroke when he was four. He speaks through an electronic talker, “like Stephen Hawking, but less intelligent,” he joked.

Through his comedy, Sam aims to counter stereotypes and start dialogue.

“I’ve been doing stand-up – or ‘sit-down’ – comedy since 2018,” he joked again.

“I think disability and comedy are interlinked. We were the original court jesters, admittedly that was people laughing at us, rather than with us.

“But disabled people can be more than what you see. Through overcoming stereotypes, positive change can occur.

“We’ve been silenced but have a lot to say, so this is a platform for those conversations to start.”

Sam added that representation in comedy is improving.

“The Lost Voice Guy, Tim Renkow and Rosie Jones all are prime examples,” he said.

“But there is still room for improvement. Not all comedy clubs are accessible, for instance.

“I’ve performed at some which didn’t have a ramp. I had to do my set at the side of the stage. Those physical barriers need to be removed.

“But there is more funding and support now for underrepresented groups, which is positive.

“We need to reach a stage where representation is normalised and there isn’t a need for specific disabled comedy nights like mine.”

No previous experience is needed for comics wanting to perform at Sam’s gig.

Anyone who considers themselves disabled and is interested in performing for between five and 30 minutes is asked to send their information and a short video of a routine to samjudd.comedy@gmail.com.

“We can’t pay you unfortunately, but we’re a nice bunch,” Sam added.