Lee Ridley: Stand-up success for 'Lost Voice Guy' comic
Born with cerebral palsy, Lee Ridley does not have a voice of his own. But that has not stopped him from braving the stage as a stand-up comedian.
The 31-year-old, from County Durham, dreamed of being able to make people laugh. Now, with the help of a voice synthesiser, he is doing just that.
Appearances at Newcastle comedy clubs have led to his debut at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Now, he has been offered a support spot with one of the UK's most successful comedians, Ross Noble.
The self-titled "Lost Voice Guy" has won over audiences with cutting observations about his own and other disabilities as well as more mainstream topics like politics and the media.
He has the support of his family and employer, Sunderland City Council, where he is part of the public relations department.Demand for tickets
Lee uses a tablet computer to pre-programme his routine, which is then reproduced on stage and on cue through a voice synthesiser.
"I've always loved comedy, but I never thought about doing stand-up," he said. "Then last year some friends suggested it might work.
"I let the idea stay in the back of my mind until I eventually decided to give it a go."
He approached organisers of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, who offered the City Cafe as a venue. So far, two planned shows have turned into three after a surge in demand for tickets.
"I'm going to do some new stuff and some of my old stuff in Edinburgh, just to mix it up a bit.
"Most of it revolves around the funny side of my disability. I'll do a similar thing at Ross' gig.
"My family are coming up and we've had to add a third show due to demand."'Big influence'
He said he was "immensely pleased" to be offered a support spot with North East-born Ross Noble - one of the UK's most successful comedians.
Lee said: "He's doing a warm-up show for his tour at The Stand club in Newcastle in September and he asked me if I wanted to do the warm up spot for it.
"I could never turn down an opportunity like that. Ross has had such a big influence on me comedy-wise. I was over the moon when he asked. It means an awful lot.
"After Edinburgh, I've got more gigs around the UK. I'm just enjoying myself at the minute and not worrying about the future too much. But I intend to keep my job with Sunderland Council, who have been very supportive."
Lee can be seen at the City Cafe in Edinburgh on 15 and 22 August and on 11 September at The Stand in Newcastle with Ross Noble.