Comedian in Mahoning Valley debut

Thursday, July 20, 2017

By GUY D’ASTOLFO

dastolfo@vindy.com

AUSTINTOWN

Josh Blue has cerebral palsy and is also an advocate for medicinal marijuana.

But those things move to the background when the comedian is on stage.

Blue – winner of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” competition show in 2006 – will focus on being funny when he makes his Youngstown debut tonight at the Hollywood Gaming casino showroom.

The Denver resident has used marijuana for years. He has even partnered with Mountain High Suckers on a blueberry and watermelon flavored sucker – called Josh Blue’s Dream – that is made with cannabis extract.

But his standup act doesn’t dwell on it.

“I definitely talk about being an advocate,” said Blue, in a phone interview from the Mile High City. “But that’s not what my show is about. I will have a few jokes about it here and there. I’ve been an advocate of weed for decades. It’s a medicine for me. I feel better with it and my body relaxes and I can forget that there is a problem.

“And don’t get me wrong, I like getting high, too.”

As for what direction his show does take, that depends on the audience. He sizes up the crowd for each show to determine which way to proceed.

“I never know what they’re going to see,” said Blue. “I have lots of jokes that I know I will do, but just not in the order. I look at every show like a snowflake. They are all different. I take in the vibe and energy of the room, the timing in there. You can’t put your finger on it.”

Blue is spontaneous, and doesn’t mind it when the audience is, too.

“I like a heckler,” he said. “I’ll get a little back and forth going. It shows the audience I’m working without a net, and not just reciting a joke I wrote.”

When he’s before an audience, Blue likes to quickly make his cerebral palsy a non-issue.

“If you don’t know me, I have more work to do,” he said. “I have to explain to the audience what they are seeing and then make them comfortable with cerebral palsy and the fact that I am comfortable with it. The way I do it, it’s like you don’t have the right to be uncomfortable with cerebral palsy because I am so comfortable with it.”

Blue’s humor keeps him busy; he averages about 200 shows per year. But in his spare time, he is working on a script for a sitcom pilot and plans to shop it around when it’s done.

“I kind of got to the point where I realized that if I don’t write something, it’s never going to happen,” he said. “The TV and movie industry is not real open to disabilities, or taking chances. So I’m going to do it on my own. If you can deliver something to them, they might like it.”

In 2011, Blue starred in “Comedy Central Presents: Josh Blue.” More recently, he debuted a one-hour comedy special on Showtime, “Sticky Change,” where he cracks jokes and tells stories about everything from being a white African-American (Blue was born in Cameroon, where his father was a professor), to dealing with cabbies who think he’ll pay in sticky change. The special is currently available on Netflix.

He has appeared twice on Ron White’s “Comedy Salute to the Troops” on CMT and made his late-night television debut on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.”