The Team

Benny Shakes – Host and Creator

Benny Shakes has cerebral palsy and has been performing comedy since 2019, making a name for himself on the circuit as a formidable and talented act. Benny has had three successful Arts Council projects, starting with a research project into the barriers faced by disabled comedians where he interviewed disabled performers such as Aaron Simmonds and Lost Voice Guy on his weekly show Benny Shakes Things Up, plus two rounds of funding for development and touring of Blue Badge Bunch.

Benny’s ambition is to inspire and make as many people laugh as he can. In early 2020 he was rising up the ranks of the comedy circuit, appearing at comedy clubs across the UK, when the pandemic struck. In order to continue his comedy career, Benny organised the bi-weekly disabled comedians Zoom meet up and started an online game show which eventually became the show you see today.

Mark Nicholas – Lead Panellist

Mark Nicholas is an autistic stand-up comedian and workshop leader, he is also a Max Turner Competition Quarter Finalist, Stand Up Nights Competition Semi Finalist, G&B New Act Competition Runner up, Online Gong Mad Winner and Comedy Store Manchester King Gong Winner 2021.

He recently appeared at the Comedy Store London. Mark is MC and promoter for the fantastic Laugh-Able Comedy night, both resident and touring, performing alongside headliners such as Rosie Jones, Fatiha El-Ghorri & John Robertson.

Neil Ben – Guest/Host

A BAFTA nominated writer/director who started working at BBC Schools in the early 90s, making programmes like Words and Pictures, Megamaths and Teletubbies.

Born with Klippel-Feil syndrome, Neil uses his lived experience to inform his work; specialising in writing for, and directing disabled talent.

Ems Coombes – Guest/Host

Ems is a comedian and performer who had a brain haemorrhage and a stroke when she was 17 and, in her words,  it ‘makes me more awesome!

She is a stalwart for Disability Rights,  having been the founder of Strictly Collaborative, an Inclusive arts company for disabled and non-disabled people to work together and dispel negative connotations.

Sarah Smith – BSL interpreter

Sarah has interpreted for Blue Badge Bunch since the beginning. Sarah knows the BBB team well and is excellent at conveying the show to a d/Deaf audience, particularly when things go off-script (which they often do!).

Unphased by the funny and chaotic nature of BBB, Sarah is well equipped to make d/Deaf audiences feel included.

Susanna Clark – Producer

Susanna is the Managing Director of the Comedy Agency Ingenious Fools representing a roster of stellar comedians, with a focus on diversity. Susanna has been the producer and fundraiser for Blue Badge Bunch since the very beginning.

She has a track record of designing and implementing innovative touring shows combined with outreach workshops to theatre venues, organisations and community groups, as well as libraries and schools.

If Blue Badge Bunch was a family (which it is), Susanna would be mother goose.