The Newcastle-based comic performs through the use of a speech synthesiser and David Walliams said his performance was “one of the best stand-up routines I’ve seen – let alone on this show”.
Forget Walliams, though – Ridley has the rare honour of having featured two weeks running in Radio Times magazine’s radio choices section, thanks to his Radio 4 comedy Ability “about a man with cerebral palsy, who finds it hard to get served in pubs because he already looks drunk and whose inner voice is pure Geordie, while his spoken voice sounds just like Stephen Hawking”.
So who is Lee Ridley, and what else do you need to know about him?
Who is Lee Ridley?
The 37 year-old is from Consett near Newcastle and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was six months old. Due to complications resulting from his disability, Ridley has been unable to speak for over 30 years.
In order to perform, Ridley uses a speech synthesiser upon which he programs his material before selecting certain lines based on audience reaction.
According to an interview with The Guardian, Ridley saw comedian Ross Noble performing a large majority of his set doing an impression of Stephen Hawking. After the show Ridley, through his voice synthesiser, challenged Noble asking: “Do you want to see who can do the best Stephen Hawking impersonation?”
The joke made Noble laugh and he incorporated the story into his own routine; a thrill for Ridley who was a big fan of the comedian. Ridley soon began performing stand-up sets in Sunderland before heading to the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh in 2013.
A journalism graduate, Ridley used to work as Sunderland city council’s online content manager while performing his stand-up routines during his evenings. Now, he is a full-time comedian.
In 2014, Ridley was the recipient of the BBC New Comedy Award, which has previously been won by the likes of Rhod Gilbert and Alan Carr.
While disability and living with cerebral palsy are central themes to his act, Ridley’s stand-up covers a breadth of topics from roasting the political establishment to the country’s welfare system.
Is he on YouTube?
Ridley’s Edinburgh Festival set from two years ago is available below – and his unique blend of self-deprecating humor and observational comedy is guaranteed to make you laugh.
He also appeared on The One Show performing another hilarious batch of jokes. The video is available on his YouTube alongside a host of other videos starring the comedian.
Ridley has also landed his own Radio 4 sitcom.
Ridley’s performance is a hit with both the audience and the judges on the BGT stage and he’ll be hoping his act will take him further in the competition.