Discussing "Stutterer Interrupted" With Nina G.

January 21, 2024 01:14:34
Discussing "Stutterer Interrupted" With Nina G.
Disability Empowerment Now
Discussing "Stutterer Interrupted" With Nina G.

Jan 21 2024 | 01:14:34

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This podcast episode contains explicit language, mature themes, and content that may not be suitable for all audiences. Listener discretion is advised. The views and opinions expressed by the hosts and guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the podcast platform. We recommend that you use headphones and ensure your environment is appropriate for the content discussed. By continuing to listen, you acknowledge and accept the explicit nature of this episode. Nina G is a versatile talent, excelling as a comedian, professional speaker, comedy historical consultant, and the accomplished author of “Stutterer Interrupted” and “Bay […]
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Episode Transcript

Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Welcome to Disability Empowerment Now, Season 3. I'm your host, Keith Murfee-DeConcini and today I'm talking with my dear friend, Nina G, who is a disability activist, a comedian, and an author. Nina, welcome to the show. Nina G: Hey, Keith. Thanks for having me here. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: So, your book, your memoir, is called Stutterer Interrupted, The Comedian Who Almost Didn't Happen. We were talking before the episode, and I was laughing my butt off almost all the way through it because it's just such a delightful and, may I say, snarky read. Nina G: Awesome, thank you, I appreciate that. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: So tell me about the process of writing a memo that is very short, but also very filling, like the chapters, the longest I think is six or eight pages and they feel like a complete meal to use a food metaphor. I don't know why. So talk about summing up your experiences in such a concise way, but that also allowed your reader to be pulled into the scene. Nina G: Yeah, you know, I thought about doing a memoir for years and years and years and years and years and I've written like parts of it and it wasn't until I got the title, Stutterer Interrupted, which is a play on the title, Girl Interrupted. And of course it comes from people who stutter, we're interrupted all the time. But it was when I interrupted myself, that was the biggest issue because it was like I had internalized the interrupting and so I think, having the title really kind of brought it all in. And it just kind of flowed from there after like six years of thinking about it and doing stuff. I think, you know, because I have dyslexia. I don't go on and on and on and on and on and on and on when I tell a story or when I write. So it's kind of like a book written by a dyslexic, for dyslexics, which you know, if we know universal design that works for everybody. And so my hope is that people can read it on an airplane and be good. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah, I mean, there are so many passages that I could quote and the reason why I didn't highlight passages is I was, like, five, ten minutes in and I'm like, oh darn, I'm going to end up highlighting the entire book. I'm that engrossed. Meeting your friends, meeting mean Dave, Neil, Sean. Meeting how you met your husband and then you jump to a chapter where dating is weird. And it's, I mean, all of those experiences, regardless if I could personally identify, were so captivating because of the way they were written and I could hear it being read to me in my head by your voice. And I really wish there's an audio book someday down the road, cause it would just add so much more to an already full experience. I mean, you don't hold back at all. What was that process like and how did your friends and family react? How was the editing process of what we got? What we don't get? What we expand? Nina G: You know? Yeah. So I mean, I think the first thing is that, I come from not necessarily a disability studies background 'cause I'm too old for that to have been a thing because I graduated grad school in 2000, but I was significantly impacted by disability studies, but I think we use too many big words in it. And as kind of, as a failed academic, that's kind of why I got into comedy because I wanted the disability experience relatable. But the way that academia taught me wasn't working and especially for me as someone with dyslexia, and that's another part of disability studies, we need to really branch out to different arts that are not written down so that that can be accessible to people who have dyslexia and people who may not use writing as a primary means to get to those concepts. So in part, the book is written as a way to make disability studies digestible to everybody. Also I have a lot of family that I don't agree with on a lot of things. And you know, they are always like, you know, this should happen, this should happen, this should, you know, and I get, and I've gotten into fights with them at family parties and stuff like that, where our values don't really jive. But I've learned how to talk to them about things. And through the years, I think, like, I've been able to give them arguments about why disability needs, that it's not an identity politic, you know, that, like, I've been able to manage some of that, which I wanted to convey in the book, so that if you're on the left or if you're on the right, you can read the book and get to see something out of it. So there's that piece. In terms of holding back, I think, like, I mean, I actually held a lot back. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Really? That's surprising because I'm like that’s Nina, Nina doesn't hold back. So when I hear that, I'm instantly curious. What did you hold back? I'm not expecting you to tell the audience. Nina G: No I can say now but my brother, when he read the book or no, I'm sorry, read the book. He didn't read the book. Lemme correct that. When he heard that the book first came out. He was like, and you'll have to bleep this, I don't know, but he asked my mom, he's like, what shit did Nina write about me? What shit did she talk about? What did she say about me? You barely know I have a brother in the book. And me and my brother have mended our relationship now, but at the time, it wasn't. So he's not in there. And there are things that I left out that I could have talked about and you know, it's, my brother is someone who you know, he had a lot of resentments toward me in part because he thought I was getting special treatment, as the disabled sibling. I’m like dude, you're an Italian man in an Italian family. I think you got the special treatment. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: It's like one of the special moments that I keep coming back to and that I'm going to remember for quite some time. It's how your now husband asked you out. And is it a disability to have a crutch on someone? And you said, only if it impairs your life function. And that was just, I'm like that what? But it was like a very, very sweet moment that it was like, no surprise, these two are married. That was the beginning of their sassy relationship. I was gonna say ballsy, but it's like yeah, you make each other laugh, and that's incredibly important. And that line worked, I'm like, as a guy, should I be using that line? No, it's, that was just one of the most heartwarming parts of the book. It's near the end. And it's in this ocean of snarkiness and ups and downs of comedy and this very sweet moment that impacted both of your lives, and it's like, I didn't expect it to be right there and to totally blow me over because I was in the mood of the book, the snark, the face the Nina with two Ns or five Ns. And then this very sweet moment that melted my heart, quite frankly. And so tell him that. Nina G: I will, I will, thank you. No, and also I think like, there's a thing where, like, we talk about disability and romance a lot in that representation. But, like, we haven't seen it done really well, and when it's done, it's kind of sappy, it's kind of like, ugh. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: The other part, which is way more funny, and is. the chapter or section on magical sex. And how that, how people actually think that. I mean, sex is sex, sexual healing does exist. That just flabbergasted me that people would actually come up to you or come up to anyone and say, have sex, that will probably cure your stutter, or your disability. It's like praying, I can understand from a religious point of view. Sex is a big stretch, show me the proof of that, show me the studies, please, cause it does not make any sense to me. Nina G: Well and to give some context, one of my friends who was a virgin at the time, he was like 23, his psychotherapist, his Bay Area psychotherapist, Keith Murfee-DeConcini: That, sorry to interrupt. I forgot to see that. That alone just made my face melt, because I'm like, okay, if some random person says it, whatever. If some drunk person says it, we'll call for the courts. Some academic, it's like, okay, show me the proof, a psychotherapist. Nina G: And I'm sure what they saw was at the end of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Billy Bibbit, which like, could you give him a worse stuttering name? Come on. That he had sex and was fluent for like a second. And then he went back to stuttering. And I'm sure it was based on that moment. And it's like, why are you as a professional basing anything on a movie and that's like, you know, and this isn't the only thing I've also seen it on the King speech that one of my friends was like, oh her therapist was like, oh I saw the King speech and it's caused by trauma. So your theory on neurology isn't right. I was like, dude, we didn't have that in the 1930s. Like, that's what they had to work with, and that's fine, and it doesn't help things, but it doesn't cause it. And so, people are getting misinformation from the media, misinformation from films, and that's why we need to be involved in the creation of these kinds of art forms, because this is where people get their garbage information. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah, yeah. It's just very, very telling. I have cerebral palsy and a speech impediment, which is, I think, one of the things that drew me to you as a comedian. And we're both Italian, and there's that. Ha! But I refer to my speech impediment as an accent. And I was talking to a friend of mine over email, and he was like, just go to bars more, drink more, talk to women. I'm sure your speech impediment will disappear. And my friend was very well meaning. It was like, and it's true. I could go next door, get a beer, crack it open, drink, and the timbre and tension of the speech would level out. It would level out. But that's temporary. Nina G: It isn't a good plan. Is drinking a good plan? I don't think so, knowing what I know about drinking and drugs, maybe not a good plan. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah, no, it's not. People always ask, well, why aren't you drunk all the time? Because I'm also Irish. And I'm like, oh, you want to know because I like being alive and I like my kidneys. It's like, but yeah, being on medication and drinking, not a really great combination. If I have two drinks. I can say I feel the effects of having four or five drinks because medication doubles the amount of alcohol or effects of alcohol in the system, but it's like, and I set my friend straight and he's like, thanks for doing that and holding me accountable. But I, in the back of my head, because I've been there a lot searching for a magical cure myself very early on in my disability advocacy. I remember thinking there were more than a few years of, if anyone had told me that I would have been so hardcore into it and trying to make it work that I don't think I would have survived because at that time in my life, I really wanted it and more than what guys usually want. It's like I'm kind of ashamed to admit it now, but there was a time where my voice and the reactions to it by both males and females, was the bane of my existence. I remember many times coming home after school to my mother sobbing and saying if I could cut out my vocal cord without killing myself I would. I didn't understand what I was actually saying 'cause I was so young and so I shouldn't really be ashamed of it now at all, but it was devastating to have the hallmark of my disability be used against me as a teasing torment. Again and again and again and again, and I couldn't escape it, no matter what I did. Excuse my tangent. Nina G: We are so taught that, what we have is wrong and that it's bad. And of course we're going to internalize all of that. And how old are you? Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Lord, in my late thirties. Nina G: Late thirties. Okay, I'm a bit older than you by like 15 years or so. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: I would have never guessed that but again, I don't go, I haven’t been able to actually predict the age of another person since you were in grad school. So that's like. Nina G: Yes, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. But, but the thing is like, I would love to say, like, oh yeah, growing up in the 80s. It sucked and that's how I learned to hate myself, grown up in the 90s, grown up in the 2000s, grown up in the 2024s, like, it's still a thing. That's why we need conversations like this so that people understand that and hopefully it seeps into the larger, more mainstream conversations. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah, and this is a bit more R-rated and a bit more PG-13 than I originally intended it to be, but then again, I don't really intend for episodes to be anything more than they are. I mean, they start out as interviews, but they quickly evolve into, not to get political, but fireside chats between colleagues. And it's like, but I've known your material. You're very feisty. We're also very snarky which is again why I think we jive and why you jive with mean Dave, who we'll talk about later on. It’s just this book, even though I wished it was a lot longer because I found myself so engrossed and I wanted to keep hearing story after story after story. Just like at the end of each chapter, I felt like I had had a complete meal. And so what was that process like structuring the book the way you did in, I don't know, did you have a magical page number, which actually makes a lot more change than the other thing we talked about. Nina G: I did, I just, let's see, I think, going into it, I didn't, I was like, it just has to be long enough. And like my whole thing, when I perform, what I've learned through performance is you can leave them wanting more because there's that sweet spot of like, oh this is really good. Oh, I really want to do a little bit more. Oh, I just lost him. And that's what I didn't want in the book and people can always find my album. I have an album that you can get on iTunes and Amazon, which is also called Stutter Interrupted. And I'm trying to find a place to release my special, which is similar to the book. It's a concert film as well as the documentary stuff too. And that's also called Stutter Interrupted. So that will be out hopefully soon. So hopefully people can find me in different ways. And there's another aspect of it you asked about. Oh, but oh, also, I had mean Dave edit the book and he kind of did like the simple edits and for me, that was great because he's a good friend of mine and he doesn't bullshit me. And that's what I need as an editor. Because sometimes like when I was in grad school, I'd have people edit and they're like, maybe you should maybe consider thinking about changing this. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Hold on, can you say that part again because I think the audio cut out a little and that's a very important person and an important part in the point you were making. Nina G: And also I forgot to say something, so I'll do that. So throughout my process of writing the book, I had multiple editors. And mean Dave, was one of those editors. And I have raging dyslexia. Actually, dyslexia is much more of an issue in my life than my stutter. So I needed someone because like when I was in grad school I'd have people edit my work and they like maybe you should maybe change this like be very vague. I don't need vague. I need direct and mean Dave is god forbid very direct. So there's that then I also had Jesse Elias who's a good friend of mine and hilariously funny and also a really good Writer and he kind of helped me with everything too. So having that process with them and then sending it on to other professional editors, it was probably edited like 56 times and so that was that. And, you know, being a dyslexic I think that actually helped my writing a lot, because I didn't go on and on and on, I just kind of said it, and stuck to it, which I think made it more digestible. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: So the audio cut out again at the end, but that may just be on my end, I don't know, we'll try to fix it in post. I was laughing hysterically because you said, raging dyslexia, and I'm like, please, please, dear God, let that be the title of your next book, the next chapter, because oh my holy moly it is like, but that comedy. You try things out. You don't know what it's going to hit, what it's going to miss. I mean, you have some delightful snarky moments in this book with hecklers and YouTube comments and it's, talk about deciding what to include and what not to include and how, how you structured that part. Nina G: Yeah, so I think looking at it, there was kind of like, like, is this experience that I had universal to people who stutter? Is it universal to people who have a disability? Is it universal to people who have a different experience in life? Is it universal to everybody? And so thinking about that and then telling the story based on who might be reading this and how much detail I need to go into it. Because as a disabled person who also has a speech impairment, you probably got it a lot quicker than other people. And, and performing to all stuttering audiences and all disabled audiences. A lot of times I will just say the premise. And you guys laugh at the premise. And I forget what my punchline is, because you guys just get it and that's why I love disabled audiences, which is also why I am part of the Comedians with Disabilities Act. And the book is actually in part dedicated to Michael O'Connell, who started it. Because he really helped to develop that voice in me. And so I think that kind of like writing it from a standup comics point of view, I think really helped to branch into bridge different audiences. I mean, I know anybody online has the possibility that they will be bullied. Like, like that's just any creator is going to have that. So how do you deal with that? Mine is just stuttering and it comes from that point of view. But I wanted to also kind of like, here's how I handled it, which is kind of like, I don't, I just stay out of it unless it's total m m m m m m misinformation. And then I laugh about it afterwards. So, that's the other thing. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Like, I never read the comments on YouTube because I don't care. This is more of a public service and it's more focused around the guest than me. It's like, I just hope to be able to expand the conversation because if you look, if you try to search dating podcasts, automobile podcasts, home improvement podcasts, there are thousands upon million, but disability outside of the hyper medicalization. It's a very niche market, and it really, really shouldn't be, and so I try to grab as many interesting and evocative people, as again, to illustrate that disability is across every job, every gender, what have you. It's not the cookie cutter carbon cut out of a wheelchair, which people think it is still people think that and that took a long time for me to settle on as logo because I'm not in a wheelchair and so I'm like can I really own that. And I got to the point where you're not owning it, you're hooking, you're using it as the be all, end all hook that society still thinks disability is, and you're pulling that hook every time. Nina G: I just have to share one of my Michael O'Connell's jokes and I never do justice to other people's jokes, but him being using a wheelchair and him starting the Comedians with Disabilities Act. He had said, well, you know, I'm the guy on the wheelchair, I'm the guy on the poster, you know, on the, on the card. And it kind of makes me the Justin Timberlake from N'Sync, so he called himself the Justin Timberlake of our group because he's the guy in the chair. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah, I mean it's weird marketing. Like the card that I use to support the podcast is in braille, it doesn't have my name on it. It has the name of the podcast, the tagline and the Instagram or whatever it's become not about promoting myself or my viewpoints, it's become about promoting a public service that is surely needed, it should not take this long, this idea, and there are others who do it as well, but this idea, these conversations, these snarky firefights of bobs between colleagues that also hopefully open up hearts and minds should not be niche at all. And it's just remarkable to me in all the bad ways that it still is so niche and it just blows my mind as an advocate that, yeah, I forget the point I was trying to make. Nina G: Well, and just to add to this, you know, like we filmed my special, my director also stutters. She's a woman who stutters and like, I felt so safe having her be the director because I've known her for years and years and she comes from the same kind of experiences, not the exact kind, but a similar experience and I was very excited to get the film up on Amazon Prime because a lot of my comedy peers have gotten their specials up there. And those were independently produced ones. And so, Gina put the special on Amazon and they rejected it. And it was because we did not have a license or like we didn't have a production company or whatever. Like they have put a kibosh on independent people putting their stuff on prime and like that, I was so disappointed. And that's kind of where, like, I'm kind of chilling out now because this could be God or the universe saying like, oh why don't you go do this thing instead? But it was such a disappointment because I know these dudes who had gotten it done and that's what inspired me and now this disabled voice isn't going to be available because they're putting a barrier there and it's not like disabled voices, people, I mean, everyone says that but it's bullshit. It's not the case. Especially a voice that said shit and fuck a lot. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: I mean, yeah, it's a shame because I'm YouTube, and nothing against these companies, but they're not drowning in disability related content, and it's so no one can say oh we have enough or no you don’t have any or if you do, it's one or two and. That makes no sense. Nina G: Yeah. Yeah. No. And this is a double, like a stuttering woman directed it, a stuttering woman stars in it. And I really went into my own experience. Like we had interviewed my special ed teacher who's literally changed my life. Like before meeting her, I was, you know, not very happy in my life. I don't want to go into the details of that. But you know, like she turned it around. And we address that and it's also, you know, and then it's dick jokes, you know, so it's that combination which I love. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah, and another great line in the book, which is so relatable to many, is the six month expiration date of relationships. And you fumbling through that and you were very open and honest about that again and again and again. So that part to juxtapose where you got to eventually, yeah, there's still hope, but it's like when you have, when you go through crummy to crummy to crummy to crummy relationship, one after the other, and your emotional, mental, and even physical health takes head after head after head. It's hard to maintain hope in that this will always be the chords that I'm singing or the punch line that I'm delivering. Because you touched on it again. It's not easy to date with a disability. Nina G: And, you know, and I'm sure disabled men go through this as well, but I think as a disabled woman. There's this thing where like, I, it would go through my head and I forget how much I talked about this in the book. I probably did and blocked it out, but like, there's that thing of like, oh I don't deserve a good relationship because I'm disabled. Like I should settle for whatever I get, because that is a message that somehow I had internalized and I really had to get out of that for my own sake. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah, yeah, and there are currents that ran throughout the book beyond the snarkiness, I also appreciated extremely the focus on family and how much of a bedrock that was and still is. And even though I could not relate at all to what you said, I took grandma's funeral out of grief for obvious reasons. But I was incredibly moved by that scene and that your family ended up breaking tradition or making an adaptation to the tradition. Because you were in a moment of profound indescribable grief, because this woman, your grandma, was literally there every step of the way, and just to lose her was earth shattering, and so. Nina G: Yeah, and just so the audience knows, what happened was I didn't want to read a passage from the Bible because guess what? Stuttering dyslexics don't like to read out loud. And then, you know, I'm a girl. So I wasn't a Paul Bearer and this is Italian Catholic stuff. And when I got to the church, it all overwhelmed me and it all hit me. And I'm there in the parking lot talking to people who are like my good godparents, Bob and Sydney. And luckily they weren't family so I could be really honest, but I kept crying like I have a vagina and that's why nobody's letting me do anything for them. Sydney brought me over to my dad and was like, oh, okay, this is what's going on. And my dad's like, oh yeah, just talk. And I lost my mom back about three months ago, two months ago. And I have raging dyslexia as does my niece. And we had the funeral at St. Phillips, same place. And I was like, Caitlin. You want to read? And she's like, no, I don't want to read. And I was like, okay, you're going to talk and she talked. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah. These incredible human moments in the sea of snarkiness, which is the underpinnings of the book of your life. And they should be. I mean, you're a comedian after all. I don't know if you know that. That's a joke. But it's those human mobility moments that really anchor or lead this reader. And if I was listening to the audio book, hopefully whenever that comes out, it would still be those tender moments of vulnerability that only heighten the rest of the book because it's not snark, snark, snark. And very well could be. But those moments, and sadly, I mean your schooling, it that was just, oh my, I mean, way too familiar. Well, no, I mean, not to me. I could imagine that a lot. But it is like, those moments, those breaks from the snarkiness only heightened the rest of the book, and the snarkiness only heightened those moments as well, because they both, the book both needed them be the full course meal that it is, at least in my humble opinion, it's like that's good. It would both laugh out hilarious, but also heart wrenching at times, too, and it was just so incredible to be able to share it with you all. Your past with you in the way that you let the reader in. Nina G: Oh, thank you. No, I appreciate that. And, you know, I think that is the power of comedy. I mean, I come from people like Richard Pryor who talked about race and racism and, you know, that's who I look toward when I was like, I want to be a standup comic who talks about disability. Is talking about the things that are uncomfortable, but doing it in a way that is funny, that isn't like, oh, that's so sweet. She's talking about that. No, that it is legitimately funny. And so it means a lot to me to hear you talk about that because that's the goal is to be honest and authentic and real and above all funny. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah, and I mean, the bits about fellow comedians, well known comedians, like Howard Stern and Dave Chappelle. You may not agree with everything they say or advocate. For, I don't agree with everything in my own head. It's like, I mean, it's, but you, you were able to show a human vulnerability and address it particularly in how you met Chappelle. It, and those moments are snark filled but they're also wrapped in vulnerability because comedians you have to have extremely thick skin, because if you don't, you're going to get taunted shreds every single night without question. Nina G: In that case, I hope that more disabled people come on the scene in the comedy world because our hides can be pretty tough because we have gotten it all of our lives and if we can use that to turn that on this society that has oppressed us on the people who have bullied us, we are prime people to do comedy. We just have to find the accessible stages and the humor in our experiences. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Talk about Mean Dave and how your comedy relationship has developed over the years, I would say that describing and thinking of you two, it's almost like a dynamic duo in a way. How has that relationship, in particular, shaped your comedy and also his comedy because you come from very different backgrounds, but it's incredibly important. It was no wonder to me why he was your editor and why he was your bridesmaid at your wedding. No, that did not shock me at all. I was like, if that didn't happen, that was going to be the crime of the century there. It's like, because I could see and appreciate the parallel connection you two had throughout the entire journey and so how had that personal and professional relationship evolved over the years? Nina G: God, yeah, that's such a big question. I think there's a couple of things that I would want to talk about. We started comedy at the same time, when we started comedy, he might do a little weed, then he might drink a little bit, then he might do an eight ball of coke, then, like, later on, which I was never around for the eight ball of coke. But, I used to smell him, and then I would walk down the street and I'd smell weed. I'm like, I smell Mean Dave. That is not the case anymore. He has been clean for 10 years. And he's also part of the Comedians with Disabilities Act now, which I love because people don't know that recovery is covered under the ADA, so it educates people a lot. And he has managed to really bring that both to disabled communities and to AANA and kind of challenge how people think about disability. Also, I love it because most people are like, oh, would your disability go away? You know, like, could you pray for it to go away? For him, the disability would go away if he started to use it again. Like, we don't want that to happen. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: And so that’s very ironic in a way. And that's almost damned if you do, damned if you don't type of situation, but wait, continue. Nina G: Yes, and so I think, you know, we both kind of came up at the same time and him talking about, like once he had introduced my one person show, and he talked about how the addict brain works and I was like, oh, oh, neurology, oh, this makes, and that's where I was like, oh, disability, dyslexia. You know, like the whole thing, it started to really come together. And that's when we started to talk about working together in this way and then I found out about the A. D. A. and recovery. But above all of that, I also, you know, like I said, me and my brother mended things this past year with my mom being sick and I could really see where my relationship with Dave was really like a surrogate brother. Where really having him as such a close friend has really helped me mend my relationship. Because I've always been around men my whole life, like, boys, men, like, I was always the only girl. And so I know, like, I wear dresses all the time, but I'm really not that feminine. Other than my clothes, I'm really not that feminine. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: No judgment at all. Nina G: No, and you know, and I'm old school. So like, you know, it's like, we talked about gender differently back in the 90s.Yeah so anyway, having somebody who kind of has my back in comedy has been really nice, and hopefully I've had his too, but, you know, like, having, there's a thing that I talk about where there was a comic who was like, oh, yeah, Nina, I always thought that, you know, maybe I was making you nervous. And that's why you stuttered. And then, you know, and then you got used to me and then you don't stutter anymore. And instead of me having to go into it, Dave went into it. Yeah. And it wasn't like he was speaking for me. He was using my exact words. He was just talking. I was like, oh. This is nice. I don't have to fucking explain this because so many times, as you know, as a disabled person, you are in the position to explain. And usually that is after somebody's explained your disability to you. And in the book, I call that stutter splaining. So I'm sure it happens across all of the disabilities. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah, and so, how has your husband reacted to your comedy? Nina G: Yeah, you know, I think him being a comic, it's. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Oh yes, of course. Nina G: He, and there's a few jokes that I can't do on this, but he is the butt of those. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah, well why I reacted like, oh, he's a comic, too, it's because I had, back in the very tender moment I fawned upon, I could subscribe him as a teacher who knew about, but I neglected to also remember like, huge and interesting fact, you're also a doctor. Nina G: Well not a doctor, I have my doctorate. So, yeah, so, which, you know, means I don't get paid as much but I still have all the loans. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: So, how has your family reacted to your set? And when they come, does the set change? Did it change before? Has it? Because I am trying to get in the professional comedian mindset of set management for something that will come up later. Nina G: Well, yeah, no what I say, I say. And my parents, they've come to many, many, many, many shows. And, you know, my mom, when I was a kid, like, we'd always play hooky at least once a month because I hated school so badly when I was in Catholic school. So we'd go to the movies once a month and that's where I saw stuff like Richard Pryor live at the Sunset Strip, which was a very raw, comedy set where he talked about lighting himself on heroin and like it was a whole, it was some deep stuff. And so you're like, and that's also where it's like, oh, this is where, how I can learn things about the world is through comedy. So that influenced me, and had a big impact on me. So my mom, like my mom can't say anything because she created this. So I wouldn't change anything when I'm with my parents. But my relatives have always, like, they always used to ask my mom, like, oh, how do you feel about her doing comedy? How do you feel about her saying those things? And I'm like, oh that's fine. I don't care. And like, you know, and I've even like taken some things out and my mom's like, oh no, that's funny because it's true. So I was like, okay, okay, that'll be in this special, I guess. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah, and so, for, if there are any anspiring advocates or comedians listening who want some tips about how to use comedy in a very advocating way, which you do, what would be some action steps? Nina G: You know, I think one of, I think one thing that we don't do as disabled folks, especially as disabled comics, is to acknowledge the work of black comics, because they're really the ones who have set the foundation to understand how to talk about discrimination and make it funny. You know, like someone like Chris Rock, who will talk about discrimination and talk about racism in the most insightful ways in the most reachable ways in the ways that, like, it could be understood by so many, and then talk about relationships and that mix, and he says that that mix is what helps to get him through the hour to get people's attention. So you know, I think like looking toward African American comics as models there, I also think that you kind of have to reach inside yourself to know what you think is funny, and you don't have to force it. I think humor can come in a natural way, and for me, I kind of feel like I'm kind of the anthropologist going through the world and trying to pluck things that I find funny and writing those down. And that can just be a flitter of a thought. And usually I'm lost when that happens and poof, and it goes away. But you have to write those funny things down and it may be that you use them now, or it may be that you eventually use them in 10 years, because there are some things that I've had thoughts about for a long time that then I'm able to wedge into a set. I'm like, oh, now I can use that thing that I thought about years ago. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah, and so thank you for that. I would like to think that, and I would like to hope that both people who have disabilities and those who have yet to discover their disability listen to this podcast. It would be naive to think that both groups take away the same thing, and so as my guest, what do you hope that advocates with disabilities take away from this episode and what do you hope that people who have yet to discover their disabilities take away from this episode? Nina G: I mean, I think the one thing that I'm a big advocate for within the disability community is that we use plain language to talk about our experiences. I think disability studies are sometimes out of reach for the general population, especially for dyslexics. Dyslexics are not engaged in disability studies, and we need to find ways to engage them. And dyslexia, I mean, our prisons are full of people who have ADHD and dyslexia and PTSD. This is a population we're not getting to, and it's because growing up, these people are having experiences that they're like, oh, fuck this life, I'm going to go this way, and we are losing people because of that. And, you know, and you mix in other identities, there is that as well. So, I would just want the disability world to really help to bridge that gap in terms of language, in terms of modes of communication and to invite us in. I think for me, having a stutter has led me closer to the disability world. And also my dad is hard of hearing. His dad was hard of hearing and my grandfather's mom was hard of hearing. So as long as we've been in America from Italy, yeah, we have been disabled. So I feel like I kind of got a step up on that. On the identity piece, especially for someone who has a non apparent or semi apparent disability. And for non-disabled people, you all have to know that behind your backs, disabled people call you temporarily able bodied. So that is what we say about you. Cause we're one of the few minority groups that you can join at any time. And these issues are going to be your issues eventually. And they may already be, and you don't even know it. And I think just knowing that it's not a weird thing and just like talking about it and having some language to talk about it so that you can be uncomfortable listening to this podcast instead of uncomfortable out in the world. And that is what I hope is that you make your mistakes here with us instead of making them with somebody in the world, especially. If you are someone like a psychotherapist who says, oh, maybe, maybe sex will cure your stuttering. Let’s get that straight now. And you know, just finding ways to get information and to collect information and have those interactions with the community so that you are better informed with your interactions in the world. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Nina, I want to thank you so much for coming on today, and I do hope you will come back and bring Mean Dave, and we'll talk more about the innersection and comedy and everything else under the sun. I feel very blessed to know. you and to connect to you as much as we do without knowing too much about each other. I remember the first thing or one of them I said to you is, what does the G stand for? Because I had never really seen an author use just a last initial on a book cover and that just blew my mind. I'm like, that makes no sense. And so it was, and we've been friends ever since. And I am very thankful that there are comedians like you that are as snarky and feisty as the best of them and that we can collaborate and I hope that we continue to do so. Nina G: I hope so as well. Thank you. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Take care. Keith: You have been listening to Disability Empowerment Now. I would like to thank my guest, You, our listener and the Disability Empowerment Team that made this episode possible. More information about the podcast can be found at DisabilityEmpowermentNow.com or on social media @disabilityempowermentnow. The podcast is available wherever you listen to podcasts or on the official website. Don’t forget to rate, comment, and share the podcast! This episode of Disability Empowerment Now is copyrighted 2023.

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