Regarding Tom Segura

Regarding Tom Segura

Regarding the comedian Tom Segura:

I’ve waited awhile to comment on his unfunny bit re the R-word, seen early in his special on Netflix. The best I can do is this:

I feel for the guy.

He isn’t funny. I watched the whole hour. Chuckled exactly twice. When you choose comedy as a career and you’re not funny, well, that’s a tough row to hoe, brother.

He’s trying too hard. He’s a 38-year-old man seeking to hang on to his youth. His desperation is apparent. That’s funny, unintentionally. His everyday life observations have none of the wittiness of, say, Jerry Seinfeld’s. His attempts at being audaciously non-PC wouldn’t qualify for a spot on Dave Chappell’s diner napkin.

So, to me, that’s Segura’s largest mistake. I’m glad about that. Comedians who aren’t funny don’t tend to stick around. There are too many other comedians who actually are funny. When you need to slur people with disabilities to get a laugh, you’re one desperate comedian. Tom, I feel for ya, buddy.

Most comedy has the shelf life of a cracked egg. Which makes it somewhat different from the lives of people born with Down syndrome. I guess if I didn’t have a daughter with Down syndrome, I’d wish that Segura’s wife would give birth to a child with Down.

That might change his act a little. It would also open up a world with which he is entirely unfamiliar. A wonderful world. I don’t want Tom Segura’s world to be wonderful.

I’m not even mad at the guy. Like I said, I feel for him. I even understand his point:

“You can’t say ‘retarded’ anymore. I don’t really support the arguments against it. When people are like, ‘You shouldn’t say it.’ Why? What if there’s one over there?” And you’re like… [audience laughs] We never said it like that. We were never like, “Look at that guy!” [audience laughs] You didn’t say it like that. You said it to describe an idea, or a situation.’’

Now, according to Segura, people should say, “That’s not smart. Your idea has an extra 21st chromosome if you ask me.’’

That’s just ignorant. We live in an ignorant world.

I don’t approve of his point. But I can see how some people could agree with it.

When assessing careless comments, I judge context and intent. Back in about 1990, our real estate agent at the time referred to Jillian as “mongoloid.’’ I took no great offense. The agent was an older woman, and that was the term then. At the same time, we asked our aged minister to baptize Jillian, who was then an infant. We informed him Jillian was born with Down. “That’s all right,’’ he said. “We’ll baptize her, anyway.’’ The agent and the holy man were thoughtless, nothing more.

But here’s what ails me about Segura. When parents began writing to Netflix, asking the company to shelve the special, Segura doubled down and tweeted,  “Hey @netflix please don’t take my special down. That’d be so retarded.” Segura has also blocked some parents who were defending their children on his Instagram post.

The former is cheap. The latter is cowardly.

Like it or not, words fuel perception and perception is reality. We as parents have spent a lifetime knocking down walls of perception. I wrote a whole book about it. See my daughter. Do not look at her.

Seeing is engaged and empathetic. Looking is lazy and judgmental. Once we get the world to See our kids, the rest is easy. I am not speaking only for myself when I say those who take the time to See Jillian are never disappointed.

So, laugh on, Mr. Segura. It’s easy to make fun of things you don’t know about. Understand, though, how ridiculous you sound. There’s a big world out there, my friend. It’s filled with people different from you. Delightful people, whose character and joy I envy, whose collective spirit I am fortunate to witness and learn from.

Not make jokes about. Take it easy, Tom. I hope someday you feel better about your life.

An Uncomplicated Life, our memoir of raising Jillian, is available on all platforms at

Jillian and I are also available to speak at your event. For more information, I can be reached at:

I’m also on Facebook at Paul Daugherty and pauldaughertywriter. 


14 thoughts on “Regarding Tom Segura

  1. Tom’s been doing standup successfully for a LONG time and has perfected the art. So you don’t like the one thing he said that personally offended you? It’s comedy, if you don’t like it watch something else. There is a reason why Tom Segura tours the world, the majority of people aren’t offended by his jokes and if they take offence to something he says most people will look past it… Because its a joke!

    I’m standing up for the comedy industry in general when I make these points. I’m glad you’ve voiced your opinion on this, now take into account the opinions others may have that actually understand the art.

  2. You just don’t get the joke….he is not suggesting that is what we should say about someone or something that is ridiculous. He is saying that to say that would be ridiculous. It’s pretty obvious if you have actually seen the show. It is also obvious that you are being disingenuous when you say “Now, according to Segura, people should say, “That’s not smart. Your idea has an extra 21st chromosome if you ask me.’’ You are purposely misleading others about what he said to further your agenda. That is called lying.

    Also, you feign some outrage against your minister. I assume because he finished his sentence with “anyway”. But why did you feel it necessary to even tell him that your daughter had Down’s (not Down)? You were the one that singled her out by basically saying we want her baptized but she has Down’s. The minister could have very well have just meant “that doesn’t make any difference and why would you even imply that it would” but to be polite and not call you out on your own slight of your daughter he worded it the way he did.

    You have an obvious agenda and only hear what you want to hear. I am sure stirring up some outrage helps you to book more speaking gigs for you and your daughter….which some might see as you again singling out your daughter due to her disability. But this time to turn a buck.

  3. Thank you for speaking out loud and clear for us. My daughter Sophie is nothing to compare with Mr Segues.
    This 14yo can find better jokes than him.

  4. Thanks for standing up against the use of the “r” word.
    Your ability to put into words the thoughts of so many of us is awesome. Hopefully folks like Tom Segura will read those words and understand.

      1. And so does my son who possesss an extra 21st chromosome. He’s a highly sought after key or speaker, an entrepreneur with a very successful business. In the 4th season of an Emmy, Critics Choice, Honor and Sentinal Award winning television show. And he’s funny too—but he doesn’t have to use unfounded Insults to get a laugh from an uneducated audience.
        He has fought hard for his success—had MANY people stand in his way because of outdated stereotypes that people with an extra 21st Chromosome have no intelligence. So when Tom Segura uses him as a punchline he simply sends all of his struggles for success back to first base—-and that simply isn’t acceptable.

        So go ahead and defend bigotry. Shows everyone that you too don’t have a heart or a clue about the true intelligence of people with Down syndrome.

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