Comedy in Transit Josh Blue Unplugged

By: Ann Glaser, Valley Metro

Josh Blue is a stand-up comedian. He rose to fame by winning NBC’s Last Comic Standing. He also has a disability. As his bio reads, he puts the cerebral in Cerebral Palsy.

What’s that mean?

As funny as he is, he’s also frank. He centers much of his self-deprecating act around his disability. He aims to break down stereotypes one laugh at time.

Josh Blue showcased his hilarious humor before 200 public transportation professionals at the South West Transit Association’s (SWTA) Freedom through Transit Conference in Mesa. We had the opportunity to speak with him about his experiences with transit, challenges he’s faced and what he wants all riders to know.

What appealed to you about performing at the SWTA Freedom through Transit Conference?
I do a lot of conferences where I can spotlight the importance of giving accessibility to disabled folks so they can live their lives like anyone else.

What is your personal experience with public transportation?
Riding the bus is not the most glamourous thing but it’s necessary. There was time in my life when transit kept me going to work, to the grocery store. I rode the bus in Denver every day for six months to get to my day job before I started comedy. I worked at a facility that provided day programs for adults with developmental and physical disabilities. We gave caretakers a break. I would take clients on the bus to trips like the zoo and other places. They trusted me.

What challenges did you face riding public transportation?
The bus scared the hell out of me for a long time. I grew up in Minnesota and occasionally took the bus with my parents. I remember it being terrifying. Wondering things like, “Is the door going to close too quick?” Balance is an issue for me. If the bus moves before I sit down, I may stumble and panic. But nothing happened. By riding it, it helped me realize it’s not scary.

What is your advice for people who might find the process of riding public transportation overwhelming?
If you haven’t done something, it shouldn’t stop you from taking the bus or doing anything in your life. The bus is a great way to get you to the next thing you’re scared of!

What do you want other riders to consider when it comes to accessibility issues?
People get annoyed when the bus unloads the wheelchair ramp. What people don’t realize is that they could be disabled at some point in their lifetime. You’re one car accident or one broken arm away from being disabled. We’re the only minority group you can join at any time.

How do you use comedy to break down stereotypes about people with disabilities?
My candid nature puts people at ease. It’s such a taboo topic to discuss disability. I don’t go into a show with a concerted effort to make a specific point. I talk about my life straight up. I’ve seen cruelty toward my disability. It took a long time for me to understand it. I finally realized it is ignorance. I’m comfortable with my disability. Through my comedy, I have helped bring my disability out into the world.

As a single father of two children, how do you teach them about people who may not be like them or look like them?
It’s not necessarily what we tell them but how we show them. People are just people.

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