Josh Blue performs about 200 stand-up comedy shows a year all over the United States.
How does he deal with the traveling? “Weed,” he said matter-of-factly in a recent phone interview.
That sounds like a joke, but it isn’t. Josh uses medical marijuana to help with spasms and muscle stiffness caused by his cerebral palsy.
Of course, the 38-year-old still manages to find humor in pot.
“I’m from Denver, Colorado, and I know people are excited we legalized weed,” he told a crowd in 2014. “But I wanted you guys to know I’ve been treating it like it was legal for years.”
Whatever Josh is doing seems to be working.
He has kept busy with his career since winning NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” reality show contest in 2006. He performs mostly at comedy clubs but also has appeared on many TV specials and talk shows.
Josh will take the stage for four shows on Aug. 25 and Aug. 26 at Hey Guys Comedy Club in Fairview Heights. Tickets are $20.
“Perhaps best known as the comedian who puts the cerebral in cerebral palsy, Josh Blue centers much of his self-deprecating act around his disability,” his bio reads.
Audiences seem to appreciate his honesty and openness, and the humor helps break down stereotypes about people with disabilities.
Josh talks about competing on the U.S. Paralympic Soccer Team in 2004 in Athens, Greece, recounting some of the comical moments behind the scenes.
He jokes that he tried to compete in the 2012 summer Olympics in London but got cut for “doping.”
“It wasn’t performance enhancing,” he insists. “I thought I should have gotten a medal for being able to play in that condition.”
Josh grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. His mother is a librarian, and his father is a retired professor who speaks 13 languages. He has two sisters and a brother.
Josh started doing stand-up while earning a creative writing degree at The Evergreen State College in Washington. He became known for his quick wit and impecable timing.
“I actually studied it in college,” he said in an interview. “I got credit for it. I went to a liberal arts school, where you could create your own courses and major. The last half of my senior year, I studied stand-up.”
I truly believe everybody has a disability. It can be a physical disability or it can go all the way to a fear of butterflies. I think people find it refreshing that you can confront it.
Josh Blue on working cerebral palsy into his comedy act
Josh then moved to Denver with a friend “on a whim” and lived 10 minutes away from the renowned Comedy Works, where he performed and won his first contest.
Eventually, Josh decided it just made sense to work cerebral palsy into his act. It wasn’t like people weren’t noticing that he was different.
“I truly believe everybody has a disability,” Josh said. “It can be a physical disability or it can go all the way to a fear of butterflies.
“I think people find it refreshing that you can confront it.”
Josh was traveling on the college comedy circuit when he first auditioned for “Last Comic Standing” in Chicago and got rejected. He made the cut the next year in Los Angeles.
Josh thinks he won not because he had the best act but because viewers found him to be funny behind the scenes.
“I felt the support of the nation,” he said this week. “I could feel the energy. I’d be out, and people would say, ‘Hey, I’m voting for you. You’re going to win.’”
Soon after the contest, Josh became the first comedian invited to do stand-up on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in 2006.
The sudden notoriety catapulted his career.
“I went from doing 40 or 50 shows to 250 shows a year,” he said. “Obviously, financially, it changed things. But it allowed me to do more of what I love.”
Josh has two children, Simon, 9, and Seika, 7, who live with him half time. They provide “endless material” for his stand-up routine.
Josh loves to visit City Museum when he comes to St. Louis, partly because of his interest in art. He’s a painter and sculptor in his free time.
“There’s no straight lines, that’s for sure,” he said.
At a glance
- What: Josh Blue stand-up comedy
- Where: Hey Guys Comedy Club, 5225 N. Illinois St. (Illinois 159), Fairview Heights
- When: 8 and 10 p.m. Aug. 25 and 7 and 9:15 p.m. Aug. 26
- Cost: $20
- Tickets: Visit heyguyscomedy.com/tickets or call 800-514-3849
- Information: Call 618-416-6434