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 Amazon.com
Jillian and I are also available to speak at your event. For more information, I can be reached at: email@example.com.
I’m also on Facebook at Paul Daugherty and pauldaughertywriter.