Comedians with Disabilities Act brings standup comedy to Bowie Center for the Performing Arts

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Comedians with Disabilities Act (Part 1)

Laughter is truly the best medicine when you’re a comedian or a standup comedy fan living with disabilities.

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Disability Services Department, which has served individuals with disabilities in Prince George’s County since 1974.

To mark the occasion, it will host the Los Angeles-based comedy group Comedians with Disabilities Act for a special comedy event at the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts in Bowie, Maryland, on Friday, July 12 at 7 p.m.

“We are celebrating 50 years of service to the disability community in Prince George’s County,” therapeutic recreation specialist Genevieve Jennai told WTOP.

“We were including individuals with disabilities before the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed in 1990. We started off with our Special Populations Division, which has grown into our Disability Services Team. What’s the point of having programs without everybody included?”

Communications and marketing manager Alex Brown added, “The biggest thing is just making sure that all of our communities have access to the necessary resources and supports that are available to them and just making sure we’re advocates as well as highlighting the different events and opportunities that are available.”

Formed in 2010, the Comedians with Disabilities Act has been touring the country for over a decade.

“This group of 17 comedians are coming over on Friday and they’re just gonna put their show on and hopefully will hit not just the disability community but everybody else who likes comedy or wants to learn,” Jennai said.

The event will feature San Francisco comedian Mean Dave, who is in his 10th year of addiction recovery and has opened for the likes of Jay Mohr. Michael Beers, who won Funny Fest in Calgary and opened for the late Gilbert Gottfried, will also perform.

You’ll also see Nia G, who overcame a stutter and dyslexia to release her 2023 comedy album “Stutterer Interrupted,” which debuted at No. 1 in the comedy category on both iTunes and Amazon.

“I’ve seen them perform a couple of times,” Jennai said.

“I recommended bringing them in for this event because they do have disabilities and can speak specifically to the disability community, as well as give some kind of background and open up the conversation about people with disabilities with some humor attached to it for people who don’t really understand them. They just want to be more inclusive of people with disabilities.”

Tickets cost $19 for balcony seats, $22 for orchestra seats or $24 for front-of-orchestra seats. You can also purchase VIP tickets for $30, including a meet-and-greet with the comedians after the show in the black-box theater with light refreshments served, as well as beer and wine available for purchase at the cash bar.

“It’s very much directed toward living with a disability, their personal experiences and what they’ve come across in their lifetimes,” Jennai said.

“Being able to relate their stories so poignantly to what they’ve experienced in life and share humor instead of the negative side of interacting with individuals who don’t have disabilities — they have a very positive experience on something that a lot of people look at as a negative experience.”

“At the end of the day, we’re just all regular people,” program director Nyjel Green told WTOP. “It’s an entertaining piece but also an informative piece to show that regardless of disability or non-disability, we’re everyday people with the ability to live, learn and prosper.”

Find more information here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Comedians with Disabilities Act (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

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Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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