September 2007 - November 2007: Issue 24

People

Josh Blue Comedian, Painter And Athlete

Interviewed by Gregg Donaldson

Josh Blue is a rising comedy star, who first appeared on Comedy Central's "Mind of Mencia," before winning Best Comic on "Last Comic Standing-4," in the summer of 2006. He has also performed on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and his DVD, "Josh Blue: 7 More Days in the Tank," was shown in 220 movie theaters across the country. The DVD and his CD "One Bad Arm." are sold through his website www.JoshBlue.com. Blue also has a You Tube channel www.youtube.com/joshbluetube.

Opening Stages caught up with the Denver, Colorado native last fall as he was traveling across the country, doing his comic routine at various colleges and other venues.

Donaldson:
What are the different fields you work in?
Blue:
I'm a stand up comic, painter and an athlete on the U.S. Paralympics Soccer team. I play as a striker, which is the forward position. I've been on the team for eight years.
Donaldson:
What drives you to be a comedian?
Blue:
General insanity. Comedy works better for me than homicide or drumming for getting groupies.
Donaldson:
What is your disability?
Blue:
I have cerebral palsy. It affects my right side. In fact, my right hand has become a sign language interpreter, and I'm not even aware of it.
Donaldson:
What are some of your most notable professional accomplishments?
Blue:
Definitely winning Last Comic Standing, this past summer. Also in 2004, being part of the Las Vegas Comedy Festival, and becoming the grand prize winner of the Royal Flush Comedy Competition and earning $10,000. Another highlight came with my art, when I had my own showing a couple years ago.
Donaldson:
How did you become a contestant on "Last Comic Standing?"
Blue:
I waited in line with a lot of funny people and a lot of interesting people.
Donaldson:
How do you put together a routine?
Blue:
I don't really do that too much. I have an idea of where I want to go. And once I get on stage, I feel out the audience and see what they like and don't like and go from there.
Donaldson:
Does having a disability contribute to your comic perspective?
Blue:
I always thought I was funny, but, if I didn't have a disability, I would just be another goofy white guy.
Donaldson:
Do you ever use your disability to get laughs?
Blue:
Yes. I talk about having a disability. I don't think I'm selling out. It's what everyone is already thinking: I'm just saying it. If I make the joke, it makes other people feel pretty dumb, if they make the same joke. You can't beat me, if I'm already there.
Donaldson:
Can you explain that a little more?
Blue:
I've developed a "reverse teasing" style of comedy. I love making fun of you, making fun of me. For example, with CP some people perceive you to have a mental disability as well as a physical one. So, in my routine, I say, people come to me and ask, in a slow tone, "How- are- you bud-dy?" I answer in a palsy voice, "Fi-ne." Then, as they walk away, I may add, "I want to get laid," leaving them puzzled and wondering, "Did I really hear what I thought I heard?"
Donaldson:
What do you think about movies that make fun of disability?
Blue:
I don't really care, if it's intelligently done. If it's just a cheap laugh, it's lame.
Donaldson:
On your DVD you said you worked at a zoo in Kenya? What did you do, and did it relate to your work in comedy?
Blue:
I watered animals, fed them, hosed them down when they'd let me, scrubbed out their pens, danced jigs for the hyenas and stayed out of paw's reach of the lions' cages. It's pretty funny when a zoo full of animals is staring at YOU. But, no, I wasn't doing comedy then. It's like when your dad makes you change the oil blindfolded and says it's building character.
Donaldson:
What have been the greatest rewards of your comedy career?
Blue:
I love performing in front of crowds, making people laugh and traveling around the country. The only downside is I don't like to fly. Man wasn't meant to be 37,000 feet in the air everyday.
Donaldson:
What does it take to succeed in the field of comedy?
Blue:
You have to have talent, timing and develop your own style.
Donaldson:
What advice would you give to other people with disabilities who want to pursue a career in comedy?
Blue:
The most important is to watch other comics. Find out works and what doesn't and go to open mic nights.
Donaldson:
What other comedians do you admire?
Blue:
Chris Rock, Ellen DeGeneres, Dave Chapelle and Carlos Mencia are all people I look up to. They have all found their niche and found a way to beat the hell out of it.
Donaldson:
What's next for you?
Blue:
I hope to continue doing comedy and travel. I want to do TV and movies, do a show with Chris Rock at the Apollo, propose to Katie Holmes on top of the Eiffel Tower. And I want to compete with my teammates in soccer for the 2008 Paralympics Games as well.

Gregg J. Donaldson is a freelance writer and editor based in Washington, D.C., as well a published poet. In his spare time he is also a self-proclaimed movie critic. His reviews can be found at www.myspace.com/gjthewriter Email: GJDWriter@gmail.com.

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