Comedian Rises from St. Paul Roots to National Prominence
Josh Blue, who recently won NBC’s talent-contest show, “Last Comic Standing,” was in town last month as part of his nationwide tour. Access Press editor Tim Benjamin and Rick Cardenas of Advocating Change Together got a chance to chat with Blue before the show.
I was fortunate enough to meet and interview comedian Josh Blue before his appearance last month at the Acme Comedy Club. He is obviously a very successful young man: at only 27 years of age, living with cerebral palsy, Blue has prominently forged his way into a very difficult arena. And according to his Web site, he is booked up through the rest of the year, mostly at colleges and comedy clubs all over the country. And yet, I noticed he’s still humble enough to park in the public parking lot (about four spaces down from where we parked) and walk with a friend lackadaisically into the main entrance of the club in the warehouse district of downtown Minneapolis. We met him in the main seating area of the club and chatted while he sucked a soda through a straw without lifting it off the table. On stage, he wore the same shirt and pants he walked in wearing, along with his trade-mark bandana holding his disheveled-style hairdo; Blue jokingly said that he wears the bandana because he always wants to be ready for a pickup game of handball.
In case you didn’t catch “Last Comic Standing” you should know that not only did you miss some very good humor, you also missed a true local; as Blue says, “My hood is St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood.” Blue attended Como Junior and Como Senior High School. One of his classmates, who was also present at the interview, noted that even back in high school, he was drawn to Blue because of his humor. “In school Josh was the class clown.” Blue quickly remarked back, “Being class clown kept me out of trouble, the opposite of most class clowns.”
The “Last Comic Standing” isn’t Blue’s first big win; he also won the Grand Prize at the 2004 Royal Flush Comedy Competition in Las Vegas, which earned him $10,000 and was nominated for “Best Diversity Event of 2006.”
Comedy is not Blue’s only talent; he played soccer for the United States Paralympic team, and he participated in the 2004 Paralympic Games that took place in Athens, Greece.
Blue’s humor is aimed at how he perceives life and how life perceives him as a “victim of cerebral palsy.” His genius is that he has found a new way to make us laugh at life and our abilities, and laugh at the stereotypical image of people with disabilities. I can’t put a name on his style of humor; others have labeled it “spastic and engaging.” I think it’s just really fun stuff, without quite as much of the vulgarity and sexual innuendo as your standard nightclub fare. Don’t get me wrong—Blue’s show is probably not appropriate for really young kids, but it’s not total X-rated either. The guy is just funny!
After high school, Blue went off to Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washingon, to pursue a degree in writing. After graduating there, a classmate—probably a lady —asked him to move to Denver, Colorado, with her. Being the spontaneous soul he is, Blue packed his stuff and tagged along, only to find a new town to call home.
Blue said his goal for the short term is to just keep doing the stand-up and continue to hone and refine his act. He works with other successful comedians on timing and just how to best word the jokes. For the future, though, he hopes to get an opportunity to do a television sitcom or something on the big screen, especially if he can write his own parts.
Blue doesn’t think of himself as an inspiration, but he says “if people want to be inspired by me that’s great; that’s their thing. I’m not doing what I do to be an inspiration to anyone. I’m doing what I love to do. We should all be inspired to do what we love.”
Josh Blue will perform at the 2007 Self-Advocacy Conference, Lead. Change. Empower, May 18, 2007 in St. Paul. Contact Kathy at ACT for conference information, 651-641-0297 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also get information on the Web by going to www.selfadvocacy.org/conference2007.htm