Comedian Brad Williams, who was born with achondroplasia, a condition that is a type of dwarfism, uses his condition in his stand-up comedy as a means not only of introduction, but to break the ice with his audience.
“Sometimes there are people in the audience who get this weird feeling of uneasiness because I am a dwarf. That is why I start my routine with jokes about what it’s like to be a dwarf. That way, I can get it out of my way and go on to other sorts of topics,” he said.
From there, Williams gives his audience a dose of high-octane comedy, in which he delivers non-stop rants on topics ranging from everyday life, to sex, to pop culture, to things that really get on his nerves. As a result, it prompted the late Robin Williams, himself no stranger to a highly energetic brand of comedy, to deem Brad as “Prozac with a head”.
And from July 18 to 28 at the MTelus on St. Catherine Street East, Brad will be part of Just For Laughs’ wildly popular Nasty Show line-up for the third time, in which he will join Nikki Glaser, Ms. Pat, Derek Seguin, Mike Britt and host Robert Kelly.
“People like going to the Nasty Show because they see it as a safe place; a place where they can shout out at the top of their lungs George Carlin’s routine of the seven dirty words you can’t say on TV without being afraid,” said Williams during a recent phone interview as he was making his way to the airport to fly to an upcoming gig. “What makes this show so great is that everyone can get offended here, where everyone can be singled out and get hated equally. I get people who come up to me after a show and ask me why I didn’t make fun of the Armenians. When it comes to being insulted, everyone wants to be included.”
And it was one comedian’s jokes about dwarves that gave Williams the right spark to pursue a career in stand-up comedy. “It happened 15 years ago when I was 19. I brought my dad to a stand-up show, in which the comedian in question was telling jokes about midgets. Everyone in the audience was laughing at his jokes, except the people sitting with me at my table. The comedian noticed that, and brought me up onstage and started asking me questions, and my answers were getting laughs. And at that time, I was working at Disneyland, which prompted me to respond that ‘I am not one of the seven’,” he said. “I thought getting those laughs from the audience at that show was the greatest feeling and I was hooked on being a stand-up comic ever since.”
From that rather accidental onstage Q&A evolved into a career in which Williams built himself a solid reputation as one of the funniest, in-demand comics around today, with appearances on such TV shows as The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Mind of Mencia, as well as his own solo comedy specials Brad Williams: Fun Size and Brad Williams: Daddy Issues.
As well, Williams realizes that his comedy material, especially when it deals with his being a dwarf, has a way of reaching out to fans who are dwarves in particular, or who are disabled in general. “A lot of those fans in particular think that ‘Hey, you’re our guy’ and that in a way, I am a voice for the disabled,” he said. “I believe that is because I don’t do my comedy on that topic in a exploitive way, but ends up being more empowering. You’re not just laughing at yourself; it’s like teaching and explaining to audiences what it’s like to be disabled.”
While trying to avoid politics for his material (although with the latest adventures of President Donald Trump, it’s hard to avoid), Williams’ recent target of his comedy jabs is the current trend of people trying to be victims in their own right.
“These days, people like to complain about everything, so that they could find a way of being personally exploited and latch onto that so that it could give them a sense of legitimacy,” he said. “There was one time that I did an appearance on a radio program, and the DJ showed me that he was missing half of one of his fingers. I thought to myself: ‘What does that have to do with being a dwarf … that you have trouble gripping the steering wheel of your car?’ It’s like those soccer players during this year’s World Cup who are ‘floppers’ and act like they just got shot in the butt. They are striving to be victims and get attention.”
Besides his gig at the Nasty Show, Williams will also do three solo shows on July 23, 24 and 25 at Café Cleopatra as part of the OFF-JFL series, and do a live taping of his podcast “About Last Night” with his co-host Adam Ray on July 26 at 12 noon at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
“If you played with GI Joes and ate Fruit By the Foot during the 80s and 90s, then ‘About Last Night’ is the show for you,” he said. “It’s Adam and me just sitting down, hanging out and having a good time with comics and actors whom we find interesting, in which we will also do comedy sketches and sing-alongs with the audience. This is the first time we will be doing the podcast this early in the day; we maybe drunk during that time or maybe not. We don’t know.”
In other Just For Laughs news, the festival announced this past week its recipients of the 2018 Just For Laughs Awards. This annual red carpet event, which is now in its 11th year, pays tribute to the biggest names in the comedy world past and present, and will take place on July 27 at the Grand Salon Opera of the Hyatt Regency Hotel starting at 3 p.m. Comedian and longtime festival favorite Alonzo Bodden will serve as the emcee for the awards show.
This year, Just For Laughs will honour the following individuals for their respective achievements in comedy: gala host Tiffany Haddish (Comedy Person of the Year); Hannah Gadsby (Comedy Special of the Year for her highly-acclaimed solo show “Nanette”, which will have its farewell performance on July 26); Jo Koy (Stand-Up Comedian of the Year); Lil Rel Howery (Breakout Comedy Star of the Year); and Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch (Comedy Writers of the Year, for their work on the hit Netflix series “GLOW”).
For more information – or to purchase tickets – to the Nasty Show or any other Just For Laughs show, go to www.hahaha.com