As a nationally recognized standup comedian, Josh Blue has used his status to break down barriers and provide a new perspective on cerebral palsy. Since his big breakthrough as the winner of NBC’s Last Comic Standing, Josh has catapulted to stardom. He has become a fixture at comedy clubs across the country, while also performing at colleges and universities, and appearing on TV talk shows.
Childbirthinjuries.com had the privilege and opportunity to catch up with Josh to learn more about his upbringing, his career, and his amazing attitude toward living with cerebral palsy.
CBI: You have broken down public perception of those with disabilities. What guidance would you give to children or teenagers with cerebral palsy?
JB: Don’t get hung up on the disability side of it. First of all, you are a person before you are a disability. And I feel like a lot of times it’s so easy for other people to influence how you perceive yourself. It’s one of those things where I don’t think I would know I was disabled if other people hadn’t told me. And I feel like a lot of times people get so hung up on what other people think of them — as opposed to [realizing] you have one life to live, [and] why not go for it, instead of getting hung up on other people’s preconceived ideas of what disability is.
CBI: Has living with CP helped you develop your quick wit and shape who you are as a comedian?
JB: I think when I was at a young age I realized people were going to stare at me because of the way that I move. And I also realized that it’s not necessarily people are being mean, it’s just human nature. It’s one of those things, where if you felt like an 8-foot tall person, you would be like “holy cow, look at that giant there.” But then realizing that people are staring at me, I might as well have fun with it and be something to stare at.
CBI: What advice would you give to parents of children with CP?
JB: Treat them like any other kid. Again there are obviously some special needs that they have, but I think once you start overprotecting people, that is where the real disability starts coming in because then you have no social skills or you have been protected your whole life. If you ever get a chance to go out into the real world you might not have the same open mind or no perspective if you’re protected your whole life.
CBI: Are there technologies or products specifically for CP that you believe parents or caregivers should look into to help their child?
JB: I will tell you what has really changed my life, Siri and voice-texting. I can now suddenly send messages that aren’t just a yes or no answer. I can actually say how I feel and not spend 40 minutes trying to type on a small keypad.
I will say really honestly, that’s the biggest thing that has changed my life in the last five years as far as technology. My whole life I’ve had Dragon Naturally Speaking software. I was one of the poor people who had it in the beginning when it would understand like every eighth word you said.
CBI: When you were growing up, how important was the role your family played?
JB: I come from a very supportive family. I’m the youngest of four kids, and none of them are disabled (well, I still think they are all messed up), but they’re not disabled. But my parents treated me just like any other kid, I had chores. I got away with murder just because I was the youngest and by the time they got to me they were done trying.
They’re very good parents and they expected the same from me as the other kids and I think that’s the best thing you can do for a young disabled person. Sure I have special needs, but it wasn’t made into a big issue. This is just what I needed. My brother needed to be driven to basketball; I needed to be driven to therapy. It wasn’t made to be a big deal. As far as influences go, I have lots of influences in art and music.
CBI: Was there anybody outside of your family? Was there a coach or a teacher or anyone else in that area that inspired you or encouraged you or pushed you to be a great soccer player and a stand-up comedian?
JB: I didn’t really have a coach or anything like that. I probably admired my big brother. I could look up to him because he was someone who was so smart and athletic and stuff like that, so I just tried to be the little brother that could.
CBI: In one of your interviews, you mentioned that if there was a cure for CP you would not partake in it. You would rather stay the way you are. Could you share a little more about that decision?
JB: This is all that I’ve ever known and there are some obstacles that I would obviously love not to have in my life. But I also understand that having cerebral palsy has made me try harder as a human and given me the perspective that I have — which allows me to laugh at myself. I just feel like if I change having palsy, I don’t want to say it’s a cop out, but this is the body I was given. I’m not religious by any means. But I look at it in the way that “all right, let’s play with what I’ve got here.”
CBI: Are you familiar with Jack Carroll, the 14 year old comedian in London?
JB: Yeah, I have been watching his YouTube clips, and we just reached out to him. I want to see if he will come out here and open for me on the road.
CBI: Since you were on Last Comic Standing, have more people reached out to you looking for advice or basically leveraging your status now as one of the premier stand-up comedians?
JB: Yeah, ever since I was on the show it’s been a giant outpouring of people, not necessarily just disabled people, people who say things like, “I have never had the courage to be a painter, I’ve always wanted to be a painter. I saw what you did on Last Comic Standing and now I’ve got to paint.”
To me, it’s like, how hard is it to get paint? But people make blocks for themselves, as far as they really want to do something, but they don’t think they will be good at it, or they think that people won’t respect what they do. If you enjoy it, who cares? That’s my attitude — I love doing stand-up comedy. That is why I do it; I don’t do it for inspiration or anything like that. I do it because it’s really a lot of fun and that’s how I try to live my life. Life is way too short not to have a hoot.
For a list of Josh’s upcoming performances, visit JoshBlue.com.
Childbirthinjuries.com comes to you from Sokolove Law, a personal injury law firm specializing in supporting the families of birth-injured children.