As an artist who is differently-abled, some of my differences pose problems. I am not referring to the act itself. I am a comedian who is not able to talk and one of the drawbacks is not being able to ask more experienced artists questions when you are performing with them. It is not impossible but it is definitely easier for other artists. You can message them online but many artists are busy and may not want to respond, and I would probably be one of them.
An extension of this is networking. If you are bad at that, like I am, you are probably not going to get jobs as much as other artists. Comedy in particular is not a meritocracy. There are gate-keepers and if you are not sweet with them you can forget about doing anything but free or independent shows. This is do-able if you have the initiative. This also applies to acting and music. If you are not good at networking or even dealing with people in general, like me, you should probably get a manager.
Another problem is being on stage, particularly the initial setup of the act. There have been times where things weren't set up quite right. I didn't want to hold up the show so I just accepted things. Perhaps I should not do this. I probably should have a knowledgeable assistant with me at all times but sometimes this is not possible. I imagine that this would be an issue if you rely on agency carers or assistants, as I like to call them.
I have said before that I am excluded from MC gigs because I cannot talk. The fact is I once did a MC gig so this feels like discrimination. However I may not be a traditional MC and if I really wanted to do this I would pre-screen the crowd (like psychics) or create some sort of complicated computer programme to respond to the environment.
Disability does exist but you can find ways around your problems.
On another note if you like to see more comedy for people who are unconventionally abled please like this Facebook page.
Thane Pullan is an Arts Access Advocate, and an accessibility software developer, author and stand-up comedian. He is working on a range of accessibility and arts software. You can buy his book, The Teachings of a Grumpy Cripple, online.
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