Laughter as Therapy

Last week, my friend Shameka sent me a text inviting me to join her for a night out. The comedian Josh Blue was coming to town – did I want to go?

Of course, I said yes. I love Josh. His comedy is super funny and smart. He uses his disability (he has cerebral palsy) in his stand up routines, but not in an inspiration porn way. If you’ve never seen him perform, here’s a clip from his special “Sticky Fingers.”

After the week I had, I was looking forward to a night out with good friends. Kelley, Shameka, Katie and I arrived at the comedy club early because we wanted to be able to get a table which would accommodate 3 wheelchairs and still give us a good view. I expected to see more disabled peers in the audience because so many people I know like Josh, but we were the only three visibly disabled people in the room as far as I could tell.

Josh didn’t disappoint. He was hysterical! We laughed, and laughed, and laughed. At one point, I made the mistake of taking a drink when I thought he was pausing. I was not ready for the joke and almost spat my mouthful at Kellie. I don’t think she noticed.

It was very interesting to watch the mainly nondisabled audience respond to his jokes about disability. As a person who often jokes about the stupid crap nondisabled people say to me, Josh’s jokes were spot on. I don’t claim to have the same timing or talents, but whenever I make comments like he did I never notice the tension in my nondisabled listeners as was present early in the show last night.

Here’s the thing – laughter is an important tool in helping us find common ground with those who are not exactly like us! Josh said it himself in his show last night when he quipped, “Doesn’t it feel good to laugh?”

Yes! It felt great to laugh last night. As I’ve written about in several posts, the past eighteen months have been some of the most challenging months of my life. I have not had much laughter. I miss it. I dislike being angry, bitter and depressed. I have tried to embrace gratitude, and strive to keep public complaints to a minimum. But, sometimes things just suck.

Last night, surrounded by friends who “get it,” watching a comedian who “gets it,” I felt more like me than I’ve felt in months. This morning I woke up still laughing.

Thank you Shameka, Kelley and Katie for a wonderful night of friendship and fun. And thank you Josh for the work you do to help the nondisabled laugh at disability the way we’ve been laughing at it for years.

If you’re reading this in the Capital District of NY, Josh is performing again tonight (Saturday, July 29). His website lists his tour dates for other cities. You should go see him if you can. Maybe you’ll get to pose for your own photo after the show!

Photo of two women using wheelchairs and a man kneeling between them. The woman on the left is black and wearing glasses and a black shawl. The woman on right is white and is wearing a red shirt and blue skirt. The man has a beard and is wearing a black t-shirt  with the word "DELETE" in white letters. All three are laughing.

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30 Days of Thanks Day 25 – Stephanie

I wrote about my bestest best friend, Stephanie, in 2014 when I first did the 30 Days of Thanks challenge on my blog. As I have explained for most of my life, Stephanie is the sister I got to pick for myself. She is what the author Lucy Maud Montgomery described inĀ Anne of Green GablesĀ as a bosom friend, “a kindred spirit to whom I can confide my innermost soul.”

When I fell in January, I made two phone calls while waiting for the ambulance. I called my sister Caroline, and then I called Stephanie. I always call Stephanie whenever I am at the end of my rope. And she always answers.

Stephanie lives three hours away, and does not like to drive in snow. I did not expect her to come visit me in the hospital because a trip to see me in January or February would most likely involve snow. So, when she walked through my door on the first Sunday I was at Sunnyview Rehabiltation Hospital, I almost started to cry.

Hello there Niecie!

Stephanie is one of five people who can get away with calling me that, a nickname her mom used to use. Stephanie, along with her husband, youngest son Brad, and mother-in-law, made me laugh, offered repeated hugs, and brightened an otherwise dreary afternoon.

I had to come. I just needed to make sure you were really OK.

Stephanie and Brad came up to visit again in August, the weekend before I moved. She knew I was stressed about finishing my packing, and cleaning out my “junk room.”

We’ll see what the weather is like. If it’s raining we can do work inside. But if it’s nice we should probably go have some fun.

I can always count on Steph for fun. Sure enough, she and Brad arrived and within two hours, we had a lunch packed and were on our way up to Saratoga Race Course. We spent the day watching horses and people, laughing over silly things, trying to capture the perfect photo. Our day was the perfect break from reality, a much needed oasis of frivolity in the midst of anxiety.

Stephanie – thank you for always “getting me.” I cannot imagine a world without your presence as my bosom friend, a true kindred spirit. Throughout this year you have listened, cajoled, encouraged, and laughed with me. You have seen and listened to me at my absolute worst, and you still love me anyway. I don’t know how I managed to get so lucky as to claim you as my partner in cute. Everyone needs a Stephie in their life, but I’m not sharing mine.

I’m grateful for the gift of your friendship all these years. Here’s to more fun adventures for another forty years!

Two Caucasian women leaning towards each other, holding adult size sippy cups with straws. Both women have brown hair and glasses.