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Disabled comedian Tina Friml uses humor to shed some light on Cerebral Palsy: 'Real observations'

She initially felt uncertain about transitioning from being a disabled student to a disabled adult, but she embraced comedy as a way to connect with others and break down barriers.

Disabled comedian Tina Friml uses humor to shed some light on Cerebral Palsy: 'Real observations'
Cover Image Source: YouTube | Saint Michael’s College

Tina Friml is using her sense of humor as she navigates life as a disabled stand-up comic. “Comedy became a cool thing, then it became a hobby, then it became my life," she said according to Saint Michael’s College where she graduated. During her time there she managed to take her first comedy class, win Vermont’s Funniest Comedian and even perform in Montreal’s famous "Just For Laughs."


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Tina Friml (@tinafriml)


 

Through it all, she did feel a sense of apprehension at first. “Graduating college, I was unsure of how to be a disabled adult as opposed to a disabled kid and then a disabled student where you’re constantly surrounded by your support system and people you know,” she said. The comedian has cerebral palsy which affects her motor skills as well as her speech.

However, the New York-based comedian doesn't want to be called "brave" for following her heart. The winner of 'Vermont’s Funniest Comedian' of 2018 told Philadelphia Weekly, "For decades, any joke involving the idea of a disabled person has been deemed ‘dark humor.' So in that case, is every joke about myself ‘dark’? That’s such low-hanging fruit, Where’s the fun in that? So, I have the challenge of really surprising people with things about disability they never even thought of."


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Tina Friml (@tinafriml)


 

"Funny enough, some of the jokes I have which have been regarded as the darkest or most edgy weren’t even intended to be so, they were real observations I had about the people around me, as a person with Cerebral Palsy."

"It actually never occurred to me to be a comedian as a kid. I was too busy wanting to be a singer-songwriter or actress. However, I was always joking. It was a way to speak the same language as other kids and grownups who’d otherwise only see me as just this disabled girl. At 22, I happened to go to the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal, and when seeing the ever-expanding landscape of standup comedians. That’s when the lightbulb went on," she said.


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Tina Friml (@tinafriml)


 

The longtime “theater kid” found her passion in making people laugh while also providing insight into what it's like to be disabled. Now she's excited to see the way the world sees her and her disability. “It’s really cool and overwhelming to realize it’s actually happening. It’s not just going to be a hobby that I daydream about making a profession,” she said



 

"Maybe I’m saving it for my 30’s. So, the funny thing is that even after I learned to drive and moved away from my parents, my clean style stuck. I think it created this nice baseline where I can go into dark territory and not overwhelm an audience. I don’t see myself ever becoming known as a raunchy comedian, but I’ve discovered that the only thing more fun than telling 10 dirty jokes is telling 9 clean jokes and then suddenly one that’s absolutely filthy," she quipped.

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