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Francesca Martinez (born 1978) is an English stand-up comedian, writer and actress, born in London to a Spanish father and half-Swedish, half-English mother. She has cerebral palsy but prefers to describe herself as "wobbly".
She has had many sell-out shows at the Edinburgh Festival and internationally, including the Melbourne Comedy Festival, the Adelaide Fringe Festival, the Perth Festival, and the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal. In 2014 she completed a 68-date UK/Ireland tour and has had multiple off-West End London runs at the Tricycle Theatre, the Hackney Empire, and the Soho Theatre.
In 2000, Martinez became the first female comic to win the prestigious Daily Telegraph Open Mic Award at the Edinburgh Festival.
In 2003 she was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy.
Martinez has performed sell out shows in many countries including Australia, Canada, Ireland, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, the United States, performing at Caroline's on Broadway, 92YTribeca and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (all in New York City), and the Laugh Factory and the Comedy Store (both in Los Angeles). She also performed at the 2008 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, alongside Emma Thompson.
Her latest tour 'WHAT THE **** IS NORMAL?!' has clocked up over 100 dates around the world - winning a Fringe Media Network Award at the Edinburgh Fringe, as well as being nominated for Best Show at Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival and at the Perth Festival, Australia.
In 2014, her best-selling book 'WHAT THE **** IS NORMAL?! was published by Random House to critical acclaim. It has been nominated for the Chortle Comedy 'Best Book' Award and The Bread And Roses Radical Publishing Award.
Among her future projects is a feature documentary called What The **** Is Normal?! in which she travels around looking for a 'normal' person.
Television and radio
In October 2012 she made her debut appearance on BBC Radio 4's topical panel show The News Quiz, alongside regulars Jeremy Hardy and Sandi Toksvig. She appeared on The News Quiz again in January and July 2013.
Martinez has become a regular face on TV including appearances on The Frank Skinner Show, in Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's comedy series Extras, Russell Howard's Good News BBC Three, The Jonathan Ross Show, ITV's Loose Women, Free Speech BBC3, RTÉ's The Saturday Night Show with Brendan O'Connor, Adam Hills Tonight and Spicks & Specks.
On 8 December 2012 Martinez launched a campaign War on Welfare which pledged to sign 100,000 supporters for a petition calling for an end to government cuts for disability benefits and an independent impact assessment of the government's welfare changes. The petition attracted 5,000 signatures in the first 48 hours, and achieved its target of 100,000 supporters on 30 November 2013.
An outspoken opponent of welfare reform by the government, she uses her public profile to raise issues about disability and fight for a fairer system. Martinez said: “As a disabled person in the media, I want to help give this issue a voice. It’s morally wrong for the government to target those in need instead of saving money by targeting the real causes of this crisis – and close tax loopholes and regulate the financial sector. To me, it’s a human rights issue."
Martinez has become a respected social commentator, speaking at meetings and demos across the UK, as well as being a key part of the People's Assembly Against Austerity.
In 2015 she helped organise This Changes Everything, a one-day event on climate and social justice, with Naomi Klein, Russell Brand and many other speakers. The event was streamed globally and aimed to kick-start a movement to unify the left against climate change.
In 2013 she was nominated for a Women In Public Life Award, and won the Public Affairs Achiever of the Year Award. In April 2014 she was named as one of Britain’s most influential women in the BBC Woman's Hour power list 2014. She was also nominated for Red Magazine's Woman of the Year Award 2014 and for a European Diversity 'Hero of the Year' Award 2014.
- Dugan, Emily (8 November 2009). "Francesca Martinez: A wobbly girl's battle against the last taboo". The Independent. Retrieved 8 November 2009.
- Bunbury, Stephanie (25 March 2003). "Wobbly but on the money". The Age. Retrieved 8 November 2009.
- List of Extras episodes#Series 1 .282005.29
- "BBC Radio 4 - 4 Stands Up". Bbc.co.uk. 2009-05-07. Retrieved 2013-01-20.
- "Martinez brings star quality to fresh assault on coalition’s ‘war on welfare’ - Disability in the News". The Fed Online. Retrieved 2013-01-21.
- "Welfare petition aims for ten thousand backers by New Year's Day". Ekklesia. Retrieved 2013-01-20.
- Robson, Steve (30 November 2013). "100,000 sign War On Welfare petition asking for assessment of cuts to the sick and disabled".
- "Disability Information Scotland".
- "Francesca Martinez – Personally Speaking Bureau". Retrieved 16 May 2016.
- "Our Team – Contact a Family". Retrieved 16 May 2016.
- "Woman's Hour Power List 2014 – Game Changers". BBC Radio 4.
- "#JC4PM - Jeremy Corbyn for Prime Minister". jc4pmtour.com.