Ramesh Ferris: Torchbearer
As the Olympic flame passed through the Yukon on its way to Vancouver, British Columbia, for the Winter Games, it was taken up by Ramesh Ferris, who carried it on his handcycle. Ferris, 30, is famous in Canada for biking across the continent to raise funds for worldwide polio eradication. Adopted from India, he had polio when he was 6 months old. In addition to being one of over 60 torchbearers from Whitehorse, Yukon, Ferris also had the honor of lighting the cauldron during the Nov. 3 ceremony.
Comedy with a Difference
Recently, comedian Greg Walloch got some free advice: “You don’t talk about your thing the way you’re supposed to. The black guy talks about being black, the fat girl talks about being fat and you don’t talk about your thing enough.”
His “thing” is cerebral palsy, but, Walloch says, “the gimmick of being disabled only goes so far — you have to be good at what you do.” Walloch has been trying to expand the reference point for disabled comedy his entire career.
“I just happen to be funny — I’m not really trying to tell jokes,” he says. Instead, his style is more performance art with poignancy and his own experiences thrown in. “As a person with a difference, you walk around as a lightning rod for people’s opinions. They could be thinking nice things, mean things, really inappropriate things, but what’s interesting to me is, when people have a misconception, I write it into a routine as if it’s true.” Take his “F*ck the Disabled” bit, about a woman who assumed Walloch was forced into homosexuality since no woman would bed a disabled guy. “It’s funny to take something hurtful or misunderstood and play into it a bit.”
But Walloch says don’t assume anything about disabled comedy. “I don’t feel creatively that it’s a cohesive enough community to pigeonhole people and say disabled comedy looks like this or that.”
By Jennifer Gerics
Dinah Federer, a Voc Rehab counselor with Charcot-Marie-Tooth muscular dystrophy, has a mantra: “I believe that we, the disabled, need to stop chasing normal, celebrate who we are and who we are becoming and help each other as we go,” she says on the website for her book, Chasing Normal. “If you feel angry, scared, nervous, depressed … I can tell you that you’re completely normal and it’s OK.”
Federer wrote her book for people who are newly disabled and their families, drawing on both her personal experience of being a woman with a disability as well as her 23-year career in Voc Rehab. Some chapter titles are, “Silently Screaming,” “Talking About ‘It,'” and “Feeding Your Spirit.”
Read more about the book, including how to order it, at www.chasing-normal.com. The book can be purchased for $9.95 as a download or for $12.95 in a traditional paperback format.