|Yes, I did call him before the show to ask what he was wearing so we could be twins. |
No, I didn't.
But maybe I did.
Or maybe we both work at Target.
Let me start by saying that I had no idea who Josh Blue was before I went to see him on May 1 at the Helium Comedy Club in downtown Portland.
All I knew was that he was a comedian with cerebral palsy and that he may have been on NBC's Last Comic Standing.
Turns out not only was he on that reality show, but he won the competition. And he's had a special on Comedy Central ("I went from being special to having one!"), and he's on the U.S. Paralympic soccer team, and he's plugged in to the Hollywood scene, rubbing elbows (might be easier than shaking hands, har, har) with Carlos Mencia, Ellen Degeneres and Dave Chappelle.
And here's why: the dude's hilarious. Have a taste from this bit from a Last Comic Standing performance:
"I was walking downtown and the drunk tank stopped and picked me up!
I was like: 'Wait a minute, fellas, there's a misunderstanding! I'm not drunk, I have cerebral palsy!'
They were like: 'That's a pretty big word for a drunk ass.'
I was in there for seven days!
They were like: 'Damn, buddy, what did you drink?'"
But unlike his Last Comic Standing appearances, much of his humor at the May 1 show wasn't directly about his disability. He joked about his kids and family and his "other" minority status, that of being "African American," since he was born in Cameroon. (I also learn, thanks to Wikipedia, that he started his comedy career while attending the same college as my sister, who is now serving a nine-year sentence in federal prison — no joke.)
One of his key talents is knowing how the audience will react, leading to a very funny follow-up.
For example, he mentioned, as many starving artists do, that he had CDs and T-shirts in the lobby for sale after the show, along with, he added, original paintings he'd done. He made it sound like a joke, so we laughed. "Oh, fuck you!" he replied, getting more laughter. He was serious. He does artwork.
And though Blue isn't very seriously affected — he can walk normally and talk relatively normally — he and other comedians with cerebral palsy (like the very funny Zach Anner) have made their difference more approachable to society at-large — including me. Having role models out there like them has, more than anything else, helped me see Malachi's difference as on par with other life challenges that comedians exploit for our mutual amusement, like being black in a white society or fat in a thin society or gay in a straight society.
After all, as Blue says: "I've seen you (normal) people, and you're not all that."
P.S. By the way, here's what he thinks about being "inspirational."
|Josh Blue - Being Inspirational|