Streaming comic superstar Josh Blue is breaking down common attitudes towards people with disabilities, one punch line at a time.
Comedian Josh Blue maintains that we all have disabilities.
“It’s whatever you have that holds you back,” Josh says. “I think most people in America have disabilities when I see them driving.”
Josh won Last Comic Standing in 2006, launching him to national stardom and drawing attention to his cerebral palsy. The terminology of “being disabled” or the label as a “comic with a disability” annoy him because he knows everyone lives with something that holds them back.
“Most people you talk to have a disability,” he says. “Maybe you’re not in a wheelchair, but you have a fear of butterflies. Or an invisible disability. Or you’re just a moron.”
For him, cerebral palsy is a fact of life. As a comedian, it’s a treasure trove for situational jokes and infinite opportunities to make audiences feel super awkward about the fact that society still treats people with disabilities as though they are not plain old human beings.
“I’m direct,” he says. “What I hate is when people dance around [someone’s disability]. I have an old bit where I say when people are mean about disability, I don’t think they realize the disabled community is the largest minority group on the planet—and also the only minority group you can join at any time. You can be in a car accident and all of the sudden be in the same boat we’re in. It’s a lack of greater understanding of disability. Have the attitude that disabled people are people first.”
“Or,” he laughs, “just have a little compassion, for [bleep]’s sake.”
Josh never set out to be a role model even though his five hour-long comedy specials, millions of online views, and ultra-diverse fan base prove that people look up to him as a hero.
“That was not my intended goal,” he says. “I wanted to be known as this amazing stand-up comic, not this ‘disabled role model.’ It’s taken me a long time to embrace that. I am the poster child of disability—I have this platform to talk for us, and I hope that I’m doing a good job.”
“Until we change our attitude toward disability, nothing’s going to change.”
Just like he’s crushing his comedy sets, Josh is crushing common beliefs that people with disabilities are somehow too different to share the special needs we all have as human beings—love, connections, a sense of safety, and, of course, a good laugh.
“I hope I portray us [the disabled community] in a light where the next time you interact with a disabled person, you think twice before you speak slowly or you just assume they’re a certain way because their body moves in a certain way,” he says.
After all, as Josh points out in his stand up, it’s not like cerebral palsy is contagious. But compassion is, and so is laughter. We love that Josh Blue is also standing up for people with disabilities in the best possible ways.
“Until we change our attitude toward disability, nothing’s going to change,” he says. “We want to be included, not pitied. If someone is afraid to talk to a disabled person, you really need to do some soul searching and figure out why you’re afraid of that. Because, ultimately, it’s just a human.”
You can see some of Josh’s stand-up and follow his career at JoshBlue.com.