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Brain & Nervous System Health Center

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Cerebral Palsy Key to Josh Blue's Act

Cerebral palsy is no joke, yet the winning comedian keeps fans laughing.
WebMD Magazine - Feature

Many a naysayer told Josh Blue that he couldn't be a comedian. But look who's laughing now. The 28-year-old funny man beat out the competition on the fourth season of NBC's Last Comic Standing, even though, as he puts it, "there are many white male comedians, but not too many with cerebral palsy."

Blue's disability is a big part of his act. "Any joke I tell comes from the perspective of someone with cerebral palsy. I can't say things from the point of view of a young black woman," he deadpans. He adds: "When I walk around stage, people can't take their eyes off me," referring to his more overt symptoms, including arm spasticity.

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And that's a good thing, because it draws attention to his comedic chops while debunking stereotypes about people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. "What an awesome experience to be on national TV, to make people laugh, and to talk about having cerebral palsy without beating it into people's heads," Blue tells WebMD.

Between 1.5 million and 2 million children and adults have the condition, according to United Cerebral Palsy. A group of motor problems and physical disorders affecting the developing brain, cerebral palsy is marked by involuntary movements, muscle tightness, spasticity, and difficulty walking. Some people may also have trouble swallowing and speaking. Doctors don't know exactly what causes the condition, but risk factors include premature birth, low birth weight, and loss of oxygen during birth. While there is no cure, physical and occupational therapy can help.

One of Blue's biggest pet peeves is that "people assume that because you have a physical disability, you are not able to grasp simple things mentally. It's just not always easy to talk. The words are there, but the voice box or motor skills aren't."

A U.S. Paralympic soccer player who is nearly as dedicated to his sport as his comedy career, Blue is taking his act -- and message -- on the road. "I'm having a blast," he says. "And I'd love to do movies." Fans may see him on the small screen soon: His Comic prize includes a deal for his own series and a comedy special.

Says Blue: "I'd rather go through life laughing than not. ... The best humor comes from truth, and the truer something is, the funnier it is.

Reviewed on April 09, 2007

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