Interview: Comedian Lonnie Bruhn
Editor Roy Coughlin, Interview, April 18th, 2013
"It is almost impossible to become a legend without a T.V. credit."
Nailed Magazine conducted a series of interviews with comedians for the 2013 Bridgetown Comedy Fest in Portland, Oregon.
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NAILED: “Cripple” is such a great word — it just feels good on the tongue — although it has long gone out of acceptable use as a synonym for “disabled.” You’ve used the word a lot in your comedy. Is this a conscious choice, perhaps a way to own the conversation about your own disability, or is it just a word you like?
LONNIE BRUHN: Cripple is completely a word I use to own the conversation. So many people, disabled or able bodied, pussyfoot around the topic, and I refuse to. I am candid when it comes to my disability and not because I want it to define my act but because it is apart of my life. It’s no different than my brown eyes and being short, it just is piece of who i am. It has created many unforgettable moments and because I am a storyteller, I can not ignore the adventures it has led me on. I have an open and honest dialog with my audience and “Cripple” is a word or label that other people invented. Now that it is a word, I will not allow others to dictate whether or not it is appropriate to use. For me, it is far less offensive than “special”,”handicap” or “physically challenged”. Hell, even “disabled” has a negative tone to it. I’m not dis- ABLED, I’m able to do whatever I want. The word “cripple” doesn’t say anything about my limitations. It merely describes me, like brown eyes or being short.
NAILED: From an outsider’s perspective, it seems a lot of stand-up comedians try to eventually move into television or movies. Is this trajectory a career goal for you personally?
LONNIE BRUHN: It is not a goal, no. I am a storyteller at heart, comedy has always been my passion, and the connection I have with my audience is where it is all at for me. With that said, it is almost impossible to become a legend without a T.V. credit. So I would do TV or a movie if it meant later it would lead me down a path of sold out theater shows and being exposed to a larger audience.
NAILED: When was the last time you nailed it?
LONNIE BRUHN: My last epic night in comedy was March 27th of this year. I performed to a sold out room at the Star Theater here in Portland. I have built a large fan base here and was recording my new DVD, “Truth Hurts” which will be released later this summer. It was a four camera shoot and the special was the cultivation of material I’ve been working on for the last two years. The night was emotional, and an evening I will never forget. I couldn’t have been happier than in that one moment, or the several moments stacked upon each other for the 50 minutes I stood in front of the audience that evening.
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From Lonnie Bruhn: “I’ve worked all my adult life as a comedian and storyteller. I love the creative process of changing my act from year to year. I am religious about trying out new material. My act has evolved to where it is now, stories of truth from my life. Why would that be so funny? Well, I was born with cerebral palsy which helped shape me into the unique person I am today. It has thrown me into many interesting situation and gave me an opportunity to slow down long enough to observe life. I wouldn’t have become a comedian otherwise, but it is only a small fraction of my story. Having a disability is truly a blessing. From an angry god.”
This interview was conducted during Portland’s annual Bridgetown Comedy Fest, which takes place on the weekend of April 18 – 21, 2013. Click here for information on shows that feature Lonnie Bruhn during the 2013 festival. [Photo Via: Lonnie Bruhn]