The Little Boomerang That Could

People take misinformation seriously. 

A friend’s intellectually disabled son was recently caught gargling with liquid dish soap as mouthwash. “I’m trying to fight the Coronavirus,” the young man told his supervisor. 

She reached for the bathroom door frame when she heard his answer.

Going without a mask for portions of the day had been approved, since he interacts only with her. Apparently he was trying to “make up” for the security that covering his face had provided.

Coworkers ran through her mind. Had any of them made jokes that might have been overheard? Would any be so monstrous as to tell the young man to do this?  Those answers would have to wait.

Informing his father would be a grueling experience.  

“Riley,” diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a child, is affected by accompanying health issues which, unlike CP itself, are progressive. His dad is a single father who manages care and medical treatment for both his son and his elderly mother. Despite these and other challenges, my friend’s dedication and focus are almost insect-like. He exists for his family, for the next day, the next bill, the next appointment. 

Fortunately, by all accounts, Riley is an easygoing employee. He may not be a workplace dynamo, but cheerfully doing what he can with what he’s been given is definitely his thing. Riley’s most unfavorable report involved his devouring a coworker’s tortellini from the lunchroom fridge. I enjoy imagining he did that as payback for being called “slow.” 

Because Riley can be defiant, sure. Who isn’t? And despite supervision being a mainstay of his life, he isn’t without sense. His father’s surprise is warranted. His confusion, disappointment, and fear are immediate and tangible, whereas his anger and what to do with it will either have to wait or simply be let go. 

I would find that difficult to do, myself. And this is as close as I’ve come to witnessing the boomeranging consequences of the laughable, dangerous, proposals being floated as solutions to the pandemic. I’m unsure of what to do with this other than scream it from the rooftops. 

The good news is that Riley is okay. He has been gently counseled. He goes a little less solo these days, but Riley is no different than the rest of us facing the domineering sway of misinformation and the vulnerabilities it exploits.

Being thankful that Riley only used dish soap creates a lot of what ifs.  


Josh Blue is Where Excuses Go to Die

 Creator of the “Palsy Punch” is still swinging that “arm”

Pasly PunchIn my love of all things standup, near the top of my favorites list is the sterotype-defying Josh Blue, who rose to fame on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. Cerebral palsy may have its grip on Josh, but his audiences see only the spirit and soul of a hundred three-legged horses rushing the corral gate.

Josh works to change our perceptions of people with disabilities by shoving, ‘er shaking, them into the spotlight and relishing the discomfort the rest of us must get past as a result. If you’re not familiar with Blue’s comedy, you’re in for an uplifting surprise – and not like, “oh look, the boy in the wheel chair made a funny!” His bits are as relevant to fans as airport TSA screenings. (His proposed “No Ham, No Fly” screening policy is brilliant.) Blue’s no Zach Galifianakis, which is good, especially since million-dollar paychecks don’t really measure comedic success when your stock-in-trade  –an awkward physical presence–  isn’t an act. And for the record, no material Galifianakis offers is nearly as original or free of artificiality.

If you subscribe to cable’s Showtime, you can catch Josh Blue: Sticky Change running ’til the end of this month. It’s workman-like, practiced comedic craft. And though no Internet clips can match “Sticky Change” for irreverence and hilarity, YouTube has no shortage of Josh Blue samples for you to check out. The best of ’em, I think, are those that challenge people’s comfort zones, like when Blue pretends to be homeless or approaches a random gangbanger on the street for help with opening a popsicle. “It’s hard to look hard when you’re opening a Popsicle!”

It’s reverse teasing, as he calls it: “I’m makin’ fun you, makin’ fun of me, by making fun of me  –again–  and somehow cripple comes out on top!” Ah, but don’t confuse Josh Blue’s self-deprecating humor with some condescending “It’s okay to laugh!” tour of your own stereotypes of physical disability. That element is there for those who need it, but everyone is first required to get over their pity reflex. This stuff is funny; not just funny-from-a-guy-with-palsy.


Josh Blue was meant to lead by example and lead he does, sometimes with a middle finger in the air. I can think of no comedian working a microphone today who brings together audiences more diverse than Josh Blue. He’s clever, witty, and tremendously admirable – not least of all for his refusal to make excuses.