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  • Comedy Central Series Features Sketch on Disability Rights

    Posted by kevin-schaefer on February 26, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Last week on the Comedy Central series Drunk History, an episode centered on civil rights featured a sketch about the disability rights movement. This seven-minute sketch focuses on disability rights activist Judy Heumann, and how her efforts in the 1970s led to the passage of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

    This law prohibits “discrimination against people with disabilities in places or programs that receive financial assistance from the government,” and was the first major law in U.S. history to protect the rights of citizens with disabilities. As the narrators in this sketch discuss, people with disabilities at this time were not “second, but third-class citizens.”

    MORE: How to make movies about disability more accurate

    One of the most interesting aspects of this sketch is that Comedy Central actually uses disabled actors and comedians to play disabled characters. Heumann is portrayed here by Glee actress Ali Stroker; while deaf actor Sean Berdy plays Frank Bowe, a deaf activist who founded the American Coalition of Citizens With Disabilities (ACCD). Other notable appearances include Glee alum Lauren Potter, an actress with Down’s syndrome, actor and comedian Zach Anner and actor Ajani “AJ” Murray. Both Anner and Murray have cerebral palsy.

    Drunk History is a half-hour series hosted by Derek Waters, in which he and other narrators talk about historical events while sharing a few drinks. These events are then re-enacted by a wide range of performers and celebrities. The show airs Tuesday nights on Comedy Central at 10/9c.

    Did you watch the sketch? What did you think of it?

    kevin-schaefer replied 6 years, 1 month ago 2 Members · 2 Replies
  • 2 Replies
  • deann-r

    March 5, 2018 at 10:43 am

    Loved this sketch.  It just shows how far disability rights have come and how difficult it was to get here.  In particular I thought it was fabulous that they used actors with disabilities to portray the characters.  Unfortunately there’s still a log way to go.  I just watched the Oscars where the underlying message was equality and diversity, yet I didn’t see the disabled community represented.  Although I haven’t seen the film that won for Best Picture, I believe the lead actress plays a mute janitor.  Maybe that was their futile attempt to be inclusive?  Missed the mark as far as I’m concerned.

  • kevin-schaefer

    March 5, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    Agreed! I’ve written about this subject before, and we certainly still have a ways to go. Nevertheless, it’s exciting to see sketches like this. I think in the world of comedy there is genuine progress being made for people with disabilities. Between shows like Speechless and comedians like Josh Blue, I think we’re starting to see more positive and accurate representation.

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