Recently, we brought you a story about Josh Blue, a comedian with cerebral palsy whose routine not only shines a light on the struggles and successes of people with disabilities, but helps to remove the discomfort many audiences may face when viewing a performer with a disability. Now, another comedian finds the spotlight, and while cerebral palsy remains the disability, the performer is a woman named Maysoon Zayid.
In a recent TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) talk entitled “I Got 99 Problems…Palsy is Just One,” Zayid comes forth with a stark refusal to accept sympathy for her plight. Her fierce and unapologetic spirit comes through with a sharp wit that can’t help but entertain and inspire.
“I have cerebral palsy,” she said. ” I shake all the time. I’m like Shakira meets Muhammad Ali.”
Erin Kelly, a Huffington Post writer with cerebral palsy, says, ” There have been many times I’ve wished this part of my story would fade to black, and the lights would come up on a much better scene. That never happened—and in truth, never truly will.” But Kelly was inspired and motivated when viewing the talk, saying, “It was incredibly refreshing to not only watch this woman explain her method of mentally managing the same disability I have, but also to see that she has many of the same reasons and motives for being a comedian as I do being a writer.”
Zayid’s delivery takes a lot of the sting out of the topic of living with cerebral palsy, but it displays her in no uncertain terms as a powerful woman, a liberated woman, and a woman who isn’t going to let any problem, be it cerebral palsy or her “98 other problems” overcome her or stop her.
Zayid mentions in her talk that she’s had additional difficulties—living with a disability is hard enough, but add to it the fact that she is an Arab-American woman, an ethnic background that exposes her to racial profiling and bigotry, and she’s certainly dealing with more than just one problem. But she deals with, and overcomes, her problems with wit, tact, poise, and grace, and her talk is one of the more uplifting TED talks to come down the line in a very long time.
“My parents reinforced this notion,” Zayid says, “That I could do anything, that no dream was impossible.”
Viewing her talk, it’s easy to believe that Zayid can indeed accomplish anything. Speaking of her TED talk, here’s the video!