Comedian Shannon DeVido’s star has been on the rise since a February appearance on the Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore and landing a role on the upcoming Hulu original series Difficult People, produced by Amy Poehler.
Joining the cast of Difficult People has been the biggest break in DeVido’s career. “It’s a really cool opportunity and I’m very grateful that they did think outside the box,” says DeVido, who has spinal muscular atrophy. In Difficult People, DeVido, 32, plays a strange hipster storyteller who is made fun of by series co-stars Juile Klausner and Billy Eichner. Filming for the series is underway, but Hulu hasn’t yet set a premiere date.
DeVido grew up in Holland, Pa., and attended Middle Tennessee State in Nashville. During college, she played Yenta in the production of Fiddler on the Roof. “I got to be the really funny character who was the comic relief in a very dramatic show,” she says. DeVido enjoyed the comedic role and it led her to join the Philadelphia-based improv group, King Friday, five years ago. The group disbanded in 2012. She also performs with the improve groups Wussy Riot, Hell on Wheels and Axis of Evil.
Improv acting is a passion for DeVido. “I love doing improv mainly because I get to do it with other people who make me better and make me excited to be on stage,” she says. The camaraderie of being around other comics sparks DeVido’s creativity. “These people I get to play with on a regular basis are so brilliant and so funny and make me want to be funnier,” she says.
One of her most creative comedic ventures has been the Youtube Web series, Stare at Shannon. The ongoing series puts DeVido in hilarious situations like driving her wheelchair through the drive-thru or learning the intricacies of roller derby. “I have so much fun doing it and I’m very grateful that my friends are as weird as I am and will come along for the ride,” she says.
DeVido’s comedy often takes dead aim at the stereotypes surrounding disability. Her audiences appreciate she’s doing something different but it takes them time to become comfortable laughing. “There is always that tension because as a society people are scared to laugh at disability,” she says.