So how does one become the World’s Funniest Blind Comedian and Writer?
First off it helps to be blind.
I have been writing since high school, wasn’t blind then, had an interesting path as I went from journalism to telecommunications at the University of Florida where all they did in the early 90’s was teach you how to work on the news which I learned I hated. Then I interned at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic games where I worked along side Bob Costas and O.J. Simpson. Notice the year, O.J. was still the greatest at the time. I thought I wanted to go in to sports broadcasting, but after the experience at the Olympic Games, I learned I did not want to do that. I then Went back to the University of Florida and created a TV show called Gator Life Greek Style. I created the show with a buddy and by the time it ended I had 40 people working for me, and a couple of national write ups about what we were doing. Funny as I basically was doing reality TV before anyone was calling it that, and of course now I hate reality TV which I also refer to as crap.
Anyway, and yes this is the long explanation which I have not given in awhile. I got offered a job at Warner Brothers because of the TV show I created. My buddy and I move 3000 miles only for me to get fired on my first day. The firing had nothing to do with me, as they fired the woman who had hired me and her entire staff. I really loved L.A. and stayed and started working on indy films did everything from gripping to sound to PA work, some of the worst films ever attempted to be made including one where they discovered a Vampire race wow that was a bad one not even sure if they ever finished it.
I then got in to screenwriting before everyone and their cousin was doing it, and also got hired as a Creative Exec at a company called Davis Entertainment. Our office was in the building from Die Hard fame, so that was pretty cool, but the woman I worked for was a nightmare. Anyway it was at this time that my vision was starting to get bad. I had an accident that shook me up pretty bad, no one was hurt but it got me thinking that I really should not be driving anymore, so I moved back to South Florida and started working for my Dad’s business. I told you this was a long explanation. Hopefully, you are still reading.
I continued with my screenwriting and actually came close to selling a screenplay, it never sold but a Producer who was after it ended up giving me his tickets to the Academy Awards so that was a cool benefit. I went to them in 2000. At the time my vision had gotten to the point where I had to start walking with a blind cane, known as a white cane. Funny as I remember walking in to the Academy Awards with the cane and accidentally stepped on a woman’s foot who made a big scene and started yelling at me. At the time in 2000 she was not anyone big but it was Charlize Theron.
My vision deteriorated so bad that I could not drive anymore and I moved back to NYC to open a NY office for my Dad’s company in August of 2000. I waited to move until August because I thought the recovery from Y2K would take about 8 months. 9/11 then happened and my Dad’s business like many businesses took a big hit.
Like many people in their 20’s I was still struggling to find my identity. I had had my share of life experiences having already worked in the movie business and corporate America. Having been on a bunch of movie sets, I knew one thing, I did not have the talents to act, but I was funny. So in 2002 I began studying with Second City Improv, not the famous school in Chicago but their school in New York City. Improv clicked with me, only one problem, my vision was rapidly deteriorating and Improv is a very visual art form where you need to react to facial expressions and body movements, not exactly something a blind guy can do.
As reality set in that Improv would not be a career for me, I was advised to check out stand-up comedy. I took a class through Caroline’s on Broadway, and you know what? Standing at a microphone and making people laugh is something a blind guy can do! I began performing stand-up all over New York City, and quickly became known as the blind comic. Now I had to become known as a comic who just happened to be blind. It is still something I am working on to this very day.
I had some very early luck with my stand-up as early on I got to open and do two shows with Kevin James and Ray Romano. It was quite the thrill to be performing with such power house comedians who at the time were the kings of the sitcom world. I then thought how can I give back, and thought starting a comedy benefit to raise money and awareness about retinal degenerative eye diseases would be a good way, and Laugh For Sight was born with our first benefit in October 2005 at the World Famous Gotham Comedy Club.
Since comedy wasn’t exactly paying the bills, I then got another job working on Wall Street. Not as a broker, but as a executive headhunter. I hated the work, hated the people, but wow do I miss the money.
So now it was 2008 and my vision was really getting worse and worse where I could no longer see the walk and don’t walk signs. My Aunt got me to go through the application process at Guiding Eyes for the Blind and by 2009 it was my time to go off to guide dog school. You have to live at the school for a month, and a lot of blind people are very strange as older blind people have lived pretty secluded lives, so to keep me from going crazy at guide dog school, I started writing a daily blog about what we were learning every day. I had never had a dog, so everything was new to me. I liked dogs but never had one growing up. When I first met Nash, I hated it when he licked me now I am asking for kisses on a daily if not hourly basis.
After Guide Dog School I did not know what I was going to do work wise, and one day I saw a listing by Cesar Milan that he was looking for writers for his website, so I applied and submitted my blog and got hired as a freelance writer. I still write for Cesar but they have cut back on original content so only write a few articles a year for him. Fortunately someone put me in touch with Dogster about a year ago and I started writing for them as well, and now also write for a magazine called Hampton’s Pet. Yeah, you can say going off to Guide Dog School really changed my life as I am now immersed in the doggy world and culture. And yeah, a lot of people keep telling me I need to write a book.
Having performed stand-up comedy at some of the biggest comedy clubs in the country including Gotham Comedy Club, Caroline’s on Broadway, The Comedy Cellar, The Comedy and Magic Club, The Hollywood Improv, Laugh Factory, The Comedy Store, West Palm Beach Improv, Ft. lauderdale Improv, and many more has been quite the treat. Laugh For Sight is now held once a year in both New York City and L.A., and will be celebrating our 10 year anniversary in NYC this October. I also continue to write and do a little public speaking about my life’s experiences, so you can say that Nash and I are keeping pretty busy these days.