NEAL CONAN, host:
As we continue our look at interesting people who made headlines in 2006, our next guest is somebody who made a lot of people laugh.
(Soundbite of comedic routine)
Mr. JOSH BLUE (Winner, “Last Comic Standing”): I have this thing I like to call the Palsy punch. First of all, you don't know where it's coming from.
(Soundbite of laughter)
(Soundbite of applause)
Mr. BLUE: Second of all, neither do I.
(Soundbite of laughter)
CONAN: Comedian Josh Blue. In August, he was the winner of NBC's reality series “The Last Comic Standing,” but Josh was interesting not only because of his jokes but because the butt of his jokes is often cerebral palsy. He's suffered from the neurological disorder all his life. Josh Blue has been on tour. Today, he joins us from the studios of member station Minnesota Public Radio, MPR, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Josh, nice to speak with you again.
Mr. BLUE: Good afternoon, Neal.
CONAN: How's the tour going?
Mr. BLUE: Awesome. Everything is great.
CONAN: I understand you just did a show for U.S. troops as a guest of the USO, together with Taylor Hicks, this year's winner of the “American Idol” contest. So how did that go?
Mr. BLUE: It was awesome. What a cool opportunity. I was on the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier. That's an experience I'll never forget.
CONAN: That's quite a crowd you're talking to there.
Mr. BLUE: It certainly was.
CONAN: And I know that you also have your first live concert film due out.
Mr. BLUE: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It actually came out a couple weeks ago. It was called “Seven More Days in the Tank.”
CONAN: “Seven More Days in the Tank?” Where does that title come from?
Mr. BLUE: It talks about - people always think, because of my cerebral palsy, they think that I'm drunk, and I always get picked up and taken to the drunk tank.
CONAN: We're speaking with Josh Blue, the star of “The Last Comic Standing.” You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
And as you continue, I assume there's so many more people who know who you are now after your exposure on television?
Mr. BLUE: It's amazing. I mean just walking down the street. I have a very distinctive walk and people pick that up pretty quickly.
CONAN: Does the fact - I'm curious about the response you get from other people with cerebral palsy. The fact that you make fun of yourself and your disabilities and your peculiar walk, as you say, do they take offense at that? Do they appreciate that? What's been the response?
Mr. BLUE: You know what? It's been nothing but positive. When the show was going on, I was getting in excess of 400 e-mails a day, most of them from people with disabilities or people saying hey, my sister has CP or my brother has MS or whatever. And just people just saying thank you for putting it out there in a positive light.
CONAN: Are you now a headliner?
Mr. BLUE: I am, yup. I do hour-long shows all over the country almost every day.
CONAN: Wow. That takes an enormous amount of energy not just to do the show, which is of course a strain in and of itself, but the travel involved is not easy.
Mr. BLUE: Yeah, the performing is the easy part. I look at it like they're paying me to get there, especially around the holidays.
CONAN: Especially around the holidays. Are these one night stands, or are you, I guess, in that famous comedian's phrase - I'm here all the week?
Mr. BLUE: Yeah. I was in Erie, Pennsylvania, all last weekend. I had six shows in three days. But then other shows, like the USO thing, was just a one-night stint.
CONAN: Where was the Ronald Reagan when you were aboard?
Mr. BLUE: It was in San Diego.
CONAN: Oh, so not out at sea somewhere.
Mr. BLUE: No, no. They invited me back to land on the ship, which would be pretty cool.
CONAN: That is pretty cool. I've done that on an aircraft carrier, and it's a remarkable experience. And again they're paying you to travel there, believe me.
(Soundbite of laughter)
CONAN: An arresting experience, as you'll find out if you do it. I wonder, are you still in touch with any of the other comics from the show?
Mr. BLUE: Yeah, I actually have a couple shows coming up with them. I have some here in Minnesota on the 30th. I'll be working with Ty and Chris and Roz, three of the other finalists.
It's great to perform with them. We're still really good friends, and it's an awesome opportunity to, you know, travel with them as well.
CONAN: Because obviously at one point you were competitors, but everybody's trying to do their own material, right?
Mr. BLUE: Right, exactly. Well, that was the cool thing about the show was it was a competition, but we never really got too cutthroat.
CONAN: This has changed your life.
Mr. BLUE: Definitely. I mean, yeah, I wasn't famous before this.
CONAN: And you weren't a headliner before this, either.
Mr. BLUE: Nope. A lot has changed. It's pretty amazing.
CONAN: And as you look ahead, you know, to your career, I understand you're going to be playing in Vegas soon?
Mr. BLUE: Yeah, I'll be in Vegas, and I've got some shows in Chicago on the 20th. It's just a ping-pong ball all over the nation.
CONAN: I guess the only drawback, aside from the travel, is the necessity to develop a lot of new material.
Mr. BLUE: Yeah, that is a hard part. But the good thing about performing every night is I don't have any excuse not to try something new every day.
CONAN: And now that you're a star, can you afford writers to get material for you?
Mr. BLUE: Yeah, I can. That has been an option. But usually I still like to throw out my own ideas.
CONAN: Well, Josh Blue, where are you appearing next?
Mr. BLUE: I will be in - where is it? - Mystic Lake Casino in Minnesota on the 30th.
CONAN: Well, good luck to you. Merry Christmas, and thanks very much for your time.
Mr. BLUE: Thank you. Happy New Year to you.
CONAN: Happy New Year to you. Comedian Josh Blue, and again you can catch him in Las Vegas next month, and he joined us today from the studios of member station MPR in St. Paul, Minnesota. I'm Neal Conan. This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
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