THERE aren’t many stand up comedians whose aim is to talk themselves out of a job.

But to make himself and his act redundant is something Laurence Clark dreams about.

For wheelchair using Laurence was born with cerebral palsy and uses his line of work to alter the general public’s perceptions of people with disabilities.

He takes his solo shows to all corners of the country to reach out to as many people as he can. He is part of the Abnormally Funny People monthly show at London’s Soho Theatre, where all but one of the acts are disabled.

And Laurence also has a voice online with his regular blog on the Ouch section of the BBC website, which reflects the lives and experiences of disabled people.

“My aim is to make people more open-minded. My shows are about how people react to me and other people like me. And one day I hope I don’t need to do them. This wasn’t an obvious choice from a careers advisor so I’m not sure what I’d do next!”

Laurence — who completed a PhD in computing and science before turning to comedy — made his name in 2003 with his first show, The All-Star Charity Show. It won critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe and was named Critics’ Choice in The Times.

Then he hit the headlines with his next show, The Jim Davidson Guide to Equality, which hit back at comic Jim Davidson for cancelling a show because wheelchair users were in the audience. Laurence vows to cancel if Jim turned up in his audience!

His latest controversial show is an attempt to reclaim the word ‘spastic’ with his tour titled Spastic Fantastic, coming to Nelson’s ACE Centre.

“The idea came about because ethnic minorities have done the same thing to claim back words used to describe them, so I thought I could do the same with the offensive words that are always used about me.”

Laurence regularly starts off his sets with the opener: “No, it’s OK. I’m not drunk. This is just how I speak.”

It is this brave style that has led to him recently topping Shortlist Magazine’s Britain's 10 Funniest New Comedians list.

And it was at one of his regular Edinburgh slots when Laurence realised how important it was for him to reclaim the word spastic.

“I had something of an epiphany last year at Edinburgh Fringe. I’d incorporated an old video of me bungee jumping into my act, which had always made me laugh, though I could never quite put my finger on why.

Then the uneasy truth came to me that, basically, there's something so wrong and yet so funny about watching a spastic being pushed off a bridge. Before I knew it, I’d blurted it out loud.

“To my amazement, this was greeted with possibly the biggest laugh I’ve ever got. It was as if I’d voiced the very thing that was foremost on the minds of absolutely every single audience member, yet no-one dared to say it.

At that moment I realised that, while we may have banished this word from British culture, it was still used by a section of the public.

“I reckon I must be one of the few who, until now, haven’t constantly used the word ‘spastic’ in their act. But let's face it — if anyone's got a right to use this word then surely it's us?

“The word has dogged me for my entire life. My first school was called the Percy Hedley School for Spastics. They even had it written on a big sign by the entrance.”

So Laurence set about making it his personal mission to reclaim the derogatory word but for a while he wasn’t sure how it could be done.

“I couldn’t very well go out onto the streets shouting ‘I’m spastic and I'm proud!’ So for a while I tried slipping it into conversations at parties: ‘Hi my name’s Laurence and, in case you're wondering, I am a spastic . . . what do you do for a living?’ That didn’t seem to work.

“So instead I’m spreading the word through the power of stand-up comedy and hidden camera stunts. I reckon my audiences will either be rolling in the aisles or stunned into a perplexed silence. I can't wait to find out which it will be in Colne.

“People are always nervous at first wondering what I am about and if they will be able to understand me. They are a friendly lot in Lancashire so it should be good.”

l See Laurence Clark at The Ace Centre, Nelson on October 16. Tickets 01282 661080