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Dear Mike Epps, Your Comedy Show Wasn’t Funny

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Dear Mike Epps,

On Sunday night, my husband Zach and I went to your stand up comedy show in Sacramento, and you were hilarious. From the first moment you came on stage, you had the sold-out crowd rolling on the floor. I knew it was going to be a good show right away. When Zach first asked me to see your show, I was excited because we both LOVE comedy shows, especially when we know and follow a comedian. We loved you in movies like  “Next Friday” and the “Hangover” trilogy as black Doug, so we couldn’t wait to see you live.

You Were Born With a Gift

Everyone is born with gifts and talents. One of yours is the gift of making people laugh. That is at the top of my list of favorite qualities someone could possess. You have the power to bring joy and comedy to a harsh world that’s filled with so much stress and problems. I know for me, I look forward to seeing a show where someone can make me forget about the daily stresses and just have a good time, and you are so good at that. You are an excellent storyteller, and you have such a quick wit about you that is so really pretty rare.

Your Life

I also enjoyed hearing a little about your life. We learned that you have four daughters. I saw pictures of them on your Instagram page and boy are they beautiful. I would take a guess that out of all the accomplishments you have made in your life; your four daughters are what makes you the proudest. You are a lucky man and so are your girls because they have a father who clearly loves and adores them.

I Can Relate

I also have four children. Two of them are girls like yours. Except one of them is not like yours. Remy, our four-year-old, has special needs. She has epilepsy and nonverbal autism. She was diagnosed with a rare seizure disorder called PCDH19 Epilepsy. This disease is the cause of her autism and many other neurological complications she deals with on a daily basis. Remy’s life is anything but easy, and she has gone through more hardships than anyone I have ever met, and she is only four. She is the happiest person I know with a love of life bigger than anything I have ever seen.

Remy has had over 800 seizures this past year alone. She stops breathing during her seizures, and we don’t know when that one seizure could take her life. It’s tough.

Dear Mike Epps Your Show Wasn't FunnyThe Impact Of A Disability

Because of her seizures, Remy’s brain doesn’t function like it’s supposed to. This puts her in the category or label as having ‘special needs.’ She is just like the person you were making fun of last night at your show. But just because she may do things that are considered odd, those behaviors all have a function. Whether we understand those functions or not.

Why Is She Making Those Weird Sounds?

One way that makes some people with special needs look out of place is their movements. My daughter, Remy, stims. Stimming is a term used to describe repetitive body movements and sounds, which is also known as self-stimulatory behavior. It is very prevalent in people on the autism spectrum. When you get excited, your brain can prevent you from screaming out or jumping up and down. In someone with sensory difficulties, their brains aren’t able to naturally do that. This energy is released in a way that looks very strange and is not socially acceptable. In others words, their movements and noises make them look different or to use your word, “retarded.” So  the movements that are so ‘hilarious’ and fun to impersonate, actually have a function.

It’s Not Easy

Remy and MommyThe areas of Remy’s life that make everyday activities extra hard are too many to count. Here is just a small handful.

Remy lacks social-awareness which makes going in public places dangerous. Someone always has to hold her hands or she will run off and could be in danger of getting lost or getting hit by a car.This limits what she can do and where she can go.

Remy’s seizure clusters last for days at a time which causes her great pain and misery while she lays in bed and misses out on everything. A four-year-old belongs at the park, not in bed all day.

She can’t speak, so communication is almost impossible. She cries when her needs arent being met and there is no way for us to guess at everything she is trying to say. Imagine trying to tell someone you are hungry and they think you are just tired and need a nap.

To teach her “normal” behaviors that come naturally to most people, she spends hours and hours each day in therapy to target these deficiencies. Her life is hard, very hard.

Your Jokes About Retarded People Just Aren’t Funny

You made fun of people with special needs for over 15 minutes of your show. The jokes got a lot of laughs which I am sure only encourages you to keep telling them but were they amusing? No, they were not.

Implications of Your Actions

Those words and jokes reflect a person who comes across as ignorant, uneducated, small minded and cruel. 

It may be a sign that you often feel inferior to others and need to boost up your ego, I don’t know. But whatever the reason, you are wasting your platform that could be a doorway in bringing people up. To make them inspired and encouraged. How did you get where you got in your career? That would be a story your audience would love to hear and I know you could make it quite entertaining and hilarious.  

I Hope You Were Joking

I don’t know if this was just a joke or based on a real event but listening to your story about having sex with a special needs woman was sick and disgusting. That was anything but funny even in the way you delivered it. I will have to always protect my daughter from predators like that, who will try and take advantage of a person who can not defend themselves. I pray every day that nothing like that ever happens. It made me cringe to hear the joke and hear the laughter that came from it. It wasn’t funny.

Let Me Tell You Something That You Didn’t Know

People with special needs are human beings with gifts and abilities that are needed in this world. Just ask anyone who is impacted by such a person, and they will tell you how their life is enriched by them. I understand that people with special needs can look strange or act and talk differently. This makes people uncomfortable. But under their shell are human beings. Humans that want love and acceptance just like you and just like your four daughters.

Talents and Abilities

Just like the talent you possess, of making people laugh, Remy has an ability of her own. She can turn all that ugly black stuff called fear and ignorance out of people’s hearts, and turn it into compassion, love, and inspiration. She can light up a room with her joy and laughter and she doesn’t have a malicious bone in her body. Remy has the gift of making people better people. That’s an even more impressive gift than merely making someone laugh.

After The Show

We left the show with mixed emotions. On the one hand, it was a good time. You put on a great set, and the whole crowd enjoyed themselves. On the other hand, you took some cheap shots at a defenseless group of people who only deserve love and understanding.

Dear Mike Epps

Later That Night

We got home and went to bed only to wake up an hour later to our daughter having a seizure. She continued to have seizure after seizure for the next day and a half. So far she has had over 30. It is excruciating to watch my four-year-old innocent girl suffer. All I could think about as I tried to comfort and care for my daughter in pain, is how as she grows up, she will face people like you. Those who mock her, make fun of and laugh at her everyday for something that she didn’t even choose. That is heartbreaking.   

Our Job Is Simple

Since our brains function the way they should, and our bodies are healthy, we must appreciate those blessings and never take them for granted. But part of appreciating being healthy is to make sure that we take care of those who aren’t as fortunate. If we lift up the people who are different than us, we can invite in a different aspect to our lives that make us better people. Our job is to love them, protect them and build them up and appreciate the contributions that they bring to this world.

It is unfortunate  that you feel like you need to write material that demeans and diminishes such a beautiful group of people. People who may not have the voice to defend themselves. It’s taking a cheap shot, and with your other incredible material, you just don’t need this in your show.

Dear Mike Epps, I Have A Request

I am asking you to remove the special needs content from your show. 

You won’t need it. You will be respected so much more if you just raised your standards on what you talk about.

I hope that one day you are lucky enough to encounter and know a person with special needs like Remy. When you do, you will see what a blessing they are to this world and wouldn’t dare mock and humiliate them.

If you feel like using your influence to help, there is an incredible non profit organization called the PCDH19 Alliance, who help give back to the children with PCDH19 disease. They are a group of parents, whose ONLY goal, is to raise up the innocent children and help give them an opportunity for a better life. A life that we all take for granted every day. There are so many children who depend on able-bodied people like us, to make life a little bit better.

Thank you Mike Epps, I hope to see you perform again at one of your future and funnier shows.

Sincerely, a person who can hopefully still be your fan,

#MikeEpps #AcceptingTheUnacceptable

  • Katherine Gamble

    I find it very sad that comedians in this day and age still make jokes about things that aren’t jokeable. In no world is this okay. This is disguising and I love that you put this out there. There needs to be more awareness on these kinds of things. We need more love and light, especially for those who need it more than others.

    • Jody Williams Warshawsky

      Thank you Katherine. I really can tolerate humor in all forms. I have seen hundreds of comedians and love that sometimes they talk about things that are shocking. But just because someone is a comedian, doesnt mean that they should say anything. There should be boundaries. It is just a reflection of what is in their heart and that is sad.
      Thanks for your comment and for reading

  • Marie Malahi

    I don’t care if it is free speech, comedy, or anything other considered acceptable act in society. In reality it is NOT acceptable.
    It is this humor that allows the ignorance and prejudicies to continue. It is the mainstream entertainment industry that can change perspectives, but instead continues them well past what this day and age should allow. Domestic violence/abuse of every sort and disabilities have both been treated as a joking matter not a thinking one. It is appalling.

    We need more people speaking out from a personal perspective like this. This is a beautiful. There is no shaming or bashing. It is an honest plea that clearly still supports comedian and provides constructive criticism. A rare combination.

    • Jody Williams Warshawsky

      Thank you Marie. I agree one hundred percent. It is sad because I think people know deep down that it is cruel but then they go on and just let the garbage come out of their mouth, what a waste of a platform that could be used for so much better.

      • Marie Malahi

        Today’s society is the ‘me’ generation and as such they care not whether what they say or do affects those around them or has lasting ramifications on others. We’ve become a narcissistic society and no longer a community.

        Tonight my mother and discussed humor and disabilities because of your post. There is a difference in how humor can highlight a disability to bring awareness not degradation. Comedian Maysoon Zayidat (loved her TEDWomen 2013) is a beautiful example of someone who has what society deems a disability whereas she sees it as a strength and brings awareness to CP and that she is still a beautiful human being through comedy. Michael J. Fox on the other hand acting as Louis Canning on The Good Wife allowed his disability to be portrayed in a vile and despicable way. Those in the spotlight have such an opportunity to open the world to change. The door is open…who will be leading and who will block the way?

        As one with my own disabilities, I can joke to make it easier to deal with. That doesn’t mean I make light of it or degrade myself. I make others more comfortable and it more tolerable. For those that cannot due to their disability, no one has a right to use them or their disabilities as a platform in any way. It’s abhorrent.

        • Jody Williams Warshawsky

          Marie, Thank you for sharing all of that. I am inspired by you.

          I will definitely be checking out the TED talk with Maysoon Zayidat. (I love a good TED talk)
          But I agree, celebrities would better serve their fans and community if they chose to speak up and encourage those that need advocates. They would actually have more fans. I think most of them just want to feed their egos though and its a shame. But we cant control others. I personally am not a celebrity but i sure as heck have the ability to say the right thing and that makes me sleep at night and that is all i can control.

          I dont know if Mike Epps will really do anything different but if he at least thinks about this, he may understand how harmful his jokes can be and do less jokes like that.

          And thank you for sharing about your own disability. I am sorry to hear that but it sounds like you have a sense of humor about it and that is wonderful. You make a good point. You can laugh at a disability without demeaning and belittling a person or group of people. That is when it can be really funny. When its done tastefully and respectively.

    • Jody Williams Warshawsky

      also, you are really good with words.. You took the words out of my mouth. thank you

  • Marie Malahi

    I would also like to say that our family too has many with disabilities that may make them different for the masses, but are human beings and deserving respect as such. Without these people in our lives; compassion, patience, understanding, pure joy, and unconditional love would sorely be lacking. To have such a person in your life can at times be difficult and painful, yet the magic they create through their unblemished beautiful beings shines through like the brightest of stars lighting our lives up to no end.

    • Jody Williams Warshawsky

      I totally agree. Remy is literally the happiest person i know. I often admire the fact that she doesnt realize how cruel the world is. That is one of the things i love. But she will learn in due time.

      • Marie Malahi

        My youngest sister has suffered greatly and not a day goes by that changes. Yet she is the most incredibly strong person I have ever known. I’m in awe. Just last Friday night she had a seizure which dislocated her jaw. This is the second time in 2 months it has happened. Both times she suffered for over 6 hours before it was reset without making a peep. She has taught me so much without uttering a word. I so wish life wasn’t as it is for her, my heart hurts, but I am grateful for and proud to call her my sister.

        • Jody Williams Warshawsky

          I am sorry to hear about your sister. Hearing that she dislocated her jaw twice breaks my heart. that is just the hardest part of seizures is that they can happen anywhere and injuries are inevitable. How old is your sister?

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