Category Archives: Uncategorized

Something to Consider on International Stuttering Awareness Day…

It’s that time of year again! That’s right, October 22nd is International Stuttering Awareness Day! As a person who stutters, 10/22 represents something very near and dear to my heart. In my career as an author, comedian, and educator, spreading awareness is the common theme that drives all my work. But what does “awareness” really mean? Most people are “aware” of stuttering: they know what it is; they know that it exists. But beyond that? How stuttering affects our lives, how it affects the way we interact with other people—the really important stuff—those things rarely enter into the mainstream discussion. So, in honor of International Stuttering Awareness Day, I thought I’d make a quick list of things I think we should all be aware of. I encourage other people who stutter to add to this list in the comments, sharing some of your experiences. I certainly don’t speak for all of us!

1. Beware Completing People’s Sentences

The name of my new book (shameless plug) is Stutterer Interrupted. Why did I pick that title? Yeah, it’s a reference to the Wynona Ryder thing, but, more importantly, it’s a reference to the fact that we are always being interrupted! It typically goes something like this:

ME:
“I would like p-p-p–”

OTHER PERSON:
“Pumpernickel? Pizza? Pasta?”

Like the picture says, “I stutter! You’re gonna have to wait for all my brilliant ideas.” Having someone guess my next word makes things uncomfortable, which makes it harder for me to communicate. Plus, their guesses are almost always wrong! Things will go smoother if the listener just waits for the person stuttering to complete their thought. We love attentive listeners!

2. Beware Unwanted Advice (on Stuttering)

Unless I’m asking for it—or better yet, paying for it—I don’t want any tips on how to “improve” my speech. I’ve gotten unsolicited recommendations for “miracle cures” that range from homeopathic remedies to sexual acts to divine interventions. And let’s not forget that timeless classic, “just slow down and breathe.” Usually, the advice-giver’s credentials consist of “my third cousin once-removed stutters… or wait, was it Tourette’s?” Occasionally, they turn out to be an actual medical practitioner or speech therapist, but that doesn’t make it any less inappropriate. There is a time and place. And that time and place is probably not at a wedding where the person who stutters is supposed to be having fun!

3. We Don’t Need to Be Fixed

That’s right! It is up to every individual to decide how they want to speak. Some people may choose to engage in therapy to manage their stuttering. Others may not. It’s a personal choice. I personally don’t feel the need to be fluent (i.e., able to speak without stuttering). My speech patterns are a part of who I am, resulting from a difference in my brain (or neurodiversity, as many of us call it). There are many types of people, which means many types of communicating.  A person who stutters can communicate with the same clarity and effectiveness as anyone else. We just happen to have a less common way of doing it. Which brings me to my next point…

4. We Are Part of the One Percent (Not That One, the Other One)!

People who stutter make up only 1% of the adult population. Incredibly, only one fourth of that one percent are women! That’s why I refer to myself and my stuttering sisters as unicorns… because we are rare and elusive things of beauty! There are downsides to being a mythical creature though. Since we account for such a small part of the population, we don’t get a lot of representation in mainstream culture. You have to scour the ends of the Earth just to find a good stuttering role model on TV. If a person who stutters does appear in popular media, they are usually depicted in a gimmicky way that isn’t really empowering. That lady on Oprah who “cured” her stutter by wearing headphones for five minutes? Sorry, that doesn’t really do it for me. Growing up in the 1980s, the closest thing I had to a role model was a cartoon pig who didn’t wear pants. Yeah, I wish that was a joke. One of the best ways to spread awareness is through honest representation in the media… so let’s have more of that, eh?

5. There Is a Stamily Out There

Because people who stutter are few and far between, it’s an extra-special kind of awesome when we run into each other out there in the world. Sometimes it’s almost like finding long lost family, or “Stamily” as many of us call it. Growing up, I always felt like I was alone. I never knew there was such thing as a stuttering community. When I finally discovered that community, it changed the trajectory of my entire life. I was no longer alone. I suddenly had role models. I realized I could do anything, even be a stand-up comedian. I just wish someone had made me aware of it sooner… so you better believe I’m going to talk about it for Stuttering Awareness Day! There are so many amazing organizations around the world that support and bring together people who stutter: The National Stuttering Association (US), The British Stammering Association, The Indian Stammering Association, just to name a few. The International Stuttering Association even hosts an online conference in October, in honor of International Stuttering Awareness Day (check it out HERE). Many organizations also hold conferences and conventions that you can attend in person. I am not exaggerating when I say that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without these conferences. To be surrounded by nothing but Stamily for five days is simply mind-blowing—there’s no other way to describe it.

For a partial list of stuttering/stammering organizations all over the world, please find it HERE.

For T-shirts that say “I stutter! You are going to have to wait for all my brilliant ideas!” at: https://arkansas-tees.com/products/nina-g-stutterer-interrupted-brilliant-ideas-t-shirt

Thank you for reading this! And for celebrating International Stuttering Awareness Day! ❤

Photo and ballonery by Michael James Schneider

The Brainwash Years (A Lot of Love)

April 1, 2019 would have been the 20th anniversary of the Brainwash’s Thursday night open mic.  It was a mainstay in Bay Area Comedy until the Cafe, Laundromat and performance space closed for good.  In my upcoming book Stutterer Interrupted: The Comedian Who Almost Didn’t Happen I have a whole chapter dedicated to the Brainwash and what it meant to me.  This blog is dedicated to the Brainwash and an excerpt from that chapter.  

The Brainwash Years (A Lot of Love)

Comparing the Brainwash Café and Laundromat open mic to a church might sound like a bit of a leap, but it’s a short leap. Both serve as communal spaces. Actually, the Brainwash served as three communal spaces: laundromat, café, and open mic. The holy trinity! You had washing machines in one room and a café/performance space in the other. You could get a beer and watch stand-up while waiting for your clothes to dry. A genius business model if there ever was one. Throughout the day the drifters/yuppies/techies/druggies/hippies/rockers/skaters would come to eat, read, work on their laptops, hog the single-stall bathrooms, loiter, drink the free water, and do a million other things I probably don’t want to know about. In a city increasingly shaped by economic barriers, the Brainwash offered the rarest example of a complete cross-section. You could sit at a table with techies pitching start-ups to your left and skater bros scoring drugs to your right. Around three o’clock, the early-bird comedians would start rolling in. You could tell them apart from the ordinary patrons (civilians) if you knew what clues to look for. They carried notebooks. They rarely bought anything. They always crowded around the same two tables outside, passing around a joint and running jokes by each other. Between five and six, they would start lining up at the back door to get a good spot on the sign-up sheet.

The Brainwash had a mic going two or three nights a week, but Thursday was the big one—the Sunday service, if you will. Thursday nights were hosted by Tony Sparks, AKA the Godfather of San Francisco Comedy. He was the pastor of this degenerate church, leading the crowd through another evening mass. I had seen Tony on a show in Oakland fifteen years before I ever called myself a comedian, so I knew his legend long before I signed up for my first set at the Brainwash.

If it was your first time signing up, Tony would tell you to put a star next to your name. When it was your turn to perform, Tony would scream at the top of his lungs:

TONY:

Hey good humans! Your next comedian is new to the room, so what do we give them?!

AUDIENCE: 

A lot of love!

TONY: 

Say it louder!

AUDIENCE: 

A LOT OF LOVE!!!

TONY: 

That’s right! Everyone, I want you to lose your fucking minds for [insert frightened newcomer’s name here]!!!

On that cue, the gathered assortment of comedians, Google worker bees, and confused laundry patrons would erupt into applause—the loudest your average open mic performer would probably ever hear. The crowd’s enthusiasm would then gently diminish as they watched the first-time performer fumble through their badly-written material and realize that wow, this is actually hard! After five underwhelming minutes, Tony would get back on stage and act like he had just seen the greatest talent in the history of stand-up (then forget about them two seconds later and bring up the next act). Just like that, another congregant had been baptized into the church of SF comedy by Tony Sparks.

Just like church, the Brainwash had its own set of rituals and practices, which went something like this:

  • Don’t run the light
  • Bring your own pen when you sign up
  • Women sign up first
  • If you are not a woman, get there early
  • Don’t run the light
  • Expect a contact buzz when entering on the café side
  • Don’t come in late and expect Tony to put you up, unless you’ve been on TV
  • Expect comedians who have been on TV to show up late and jump ahead of you on the list
  • If you’re running the light, get the fuck off stage!

These were the customs we all observed. No matter how important you thought you were. No matter what was going on in your life. No matter your education or status. None of that mattered at the Brainwash. All that mattered was being funny and not running the light. 

The majority of my comedian friends are people I met at the Brainwash: my friend Heather, who first caught my attention with her bit about feeling guilty for going on a luxury cruise; my friend O.J., who documented the San Francisco comedy scene on his blog, Courting Comedy; my friend Jesse, who impressed everyone with his unusual brain; and, of course, Mean Dave.

The Brainwash was a place where you discovered friends. It was also a place where you discovered who wasn’t your friend. Unlike church, stand-up allows people with beef to openly rip on each other, on and off the stage. Sometimes a little teasing would dispel the tension. Other times it poured gas on the fire.

As I became more comfortable and established at the Brainwash, I no longer felt compelled to explain my stuttering at the beginning of every set. People knew who I was; I could jump right into my observations about something unrelated to disability and not worry about them fixating on my speech. I came to realize that open mics are for the comedians and not the audience. It’s our time to experiment, workshop ideas, and socialize. Sometimes we only have three minutes to try out all our new material—you think I’m going to waste two of those minutes on a generic disclaimer? It eventually got to the point where new comedians would come up to me and ask, “Have you ever thought about mentioning stuttering in your act?” Nope . . . never thought of that. Thanks for the tip! 

… (something about how I first met my husband at the Brainwash)…

On November 5th, 2016, Ethan and I were married at the Madonna Inn. My bridesmaids were my closest friends: Gina, Heather, Jody, and Mean Dave. Even though they are all talented writers, they elected Dave to give the bridesmaid speech. 

“I hate weddings,” he began, raising his glass to toast. “If you told me when I started stand-up comedy at the Brainwash that in six years I’d be a bridesmaid in a wedding, saying the wedding toast to two aspiring comedians from that very same open mic… I would have quit comedy right then and there.” 

The Brainwash wove our lives together in ways none of us could have predicted.

You might have noticed that I keep referring to the Brainwash in the past tense. Sadly, it was forced to shut down in December, 2017—another casualty of the changing culture and economics of San Francisco. The end came suddenly and without warning. One day some comedians showed up for the open mic and found locked doors instead. There was a letter from the owner taped to the window, listing the reasons that are always listed when another San Francisco landmark vanishes overnight. Bay Area comedians collectively lost their shit. Their brain pathways were wired to go to the Brainwash on Thursdays! Like Skinner rats pushing the disconnected food button they sulked in front of the empty building out of pure habit and faith. Others ranted and raged through social media, which is kind of ironic, seeing how the Brainwash was killed by dot-com-fueled development. The rest of us grieved quietly.

The Brainwash was our church. It was our community and home. The building might be demolished or converted into an upscale condo, but the things that happened there can never unhappen. Memories were made and lives were changed. Countless friendships exist because of the Brainwash. The careers of famous and unfamous comedians exist because of the Brainwash. This book exists because of the Brainwash.

Not bad for an open mic in a laundromat.

 

 

IMG_0495

Photo from the Brainwash Facebook page

5 Ways Libraries Can Support the Stuttering Community

As a person who stutters, I have heard it all!  Upon introducing myself, I inevitably might hear “did you forget your name?”  or “wh-wh-wh-what?” People who stutter find particular difficulties when interacting with people in a customer service capacity.  Last year there was a news article about a Starbucks customer who found himself mocked by a barista who used the stuttering version of his name to identify his beverage.  This may sound extreme, but so many of the 1 percent of the adult population who stutters has at least one experience where they were being mocked by a person who was in a role to help or serve them.

Librarians and library staff are among the most helpful people I have ever encountered!  They are excited to help patrons find the perfect book or resource. In the past few decades there has been a push to make libraries more welcoming places for everyone, including people with disabilities.  This has gone beyond ramps to include trainings on customer service with a focus on serving people with disabilities, displaying visual icons to help people with dyslexia navigate the Dewey Decimal System, and software to make their computers accessible to people with an array of disabilities.

In my experience, stuttering is often ignored because the library barriers don’t seem so obvious. Nonetheless, libraries will want to minimize awkward interactions like the one that occurred at Starbucks. The following are a few tips to consider. They include basic etiquette and also ways to reach out to the stuttering community, making libraries a place for resources and support.

1.  Stuttering, like many other speech-based disabilities, is not apparent.  

You won’t know someone stutters by looking at them, which means anyone approaching you might be a person who stutters. Knowing there is diversity in how people verbally express themselves helps make your interactions more inclusive. Assuming that anyone might stutter or speak in a variety of ways prepares you to address these differences when you encounter them. Some tips for facilitating these interactions include:

  • Not interrupting the person and letting them finish what they are saying.
  • Maintaining eye contact.
  • If the person says something you don’t completely understand, repeat the part you did understand so that they only have to fill in the part you missed instead of saying the whole thing over again.

2.  Don’t try to “fix” them.

People who stutter are often approached with cures for how to resolve their speech difficulties. These have included everything from old wives tales to hallucinogenics and miracle cures seen on talk shows. These are rarely helpful. Many people who stutter have likely been doing so for a long time and have tried multiple ways to manage their speech.  There are no known cures for stuttering, so offering your distant relative’s rumored remedy to resolve their speech issues isn’t likely wanted or helpful information.  In fact, many people who stutter have accepted their stuttering as divergent speech — just another way of talking — and we should follow suit!

3. Learn about stuttering resources.

There are important resources that should be shared when asked. These encourage and focus on information, peer support, acceptance of stuttering and advocacy.  Resources that encourage self-acceptance and include people who stutter on their boards and in their leadership should be given special attention!

4.  Promote positive images of people who stutter.

Positive images of people who stutter are rare.  In books, film and TV we are often portrayed as anti-social, bitter, comical or with bumbling incompetency. It is important that people who stutter are reflected in complex ways that represent the full human experience. These aren’t necessarily stories of overcoming stuttering, but living with it and helping the reader deepen their understanding of what that experience is like.  Recommended books and films include:

Books:

Children’s books:

Movies:

5.  Making your library a community space for people who stutter would be the neon sign that says “we get it!”  

Hosting events or support groups that the National Stuttering Association (NSA) and other organizations sponsor is a great start. October 22 is International Stuttering Awareness Day. The second week of May is National Stuttering Awareness Week in the United States. All of these awareness days can help educate your communities about stuttering. It is also an excellent opportunity to partner with local stuttering organizations like the NSA support groups to hear what they would like to see and how the library could be helpful.

People who stutter or have other speech-based disabilities are as diverse patrons as other library patrons.  They are likely looking up books that are of personal interest to them. They should have these opportunities in places where they can freely ask questions.  These are just a few recommendations, but there is likely more that can be done! The best way to know what the stuttering community at your library wants is to simply ask them. Keeping the lines of communication open is key to serving any community. These are just a few steps to making the library a more welcoming place for everyone.

 

jpg of library access.001library access pic 2.001

9 Year Comedy-versary

9 year comedy

Since I was 11 years old I wanted to be a stand up comedian.  That dream died in my late teens because I had never seen anyone who stuttered like I did doing comedy.  Almost 20 years later I the dream was realized.

I don’t know the exact day that I started stand up comedy.  I was a little freaked out about  starting the thing I had always wanted.  Other than my parents, no one knew I was taking a class at the San Francisco Comedy College where I would step onto a stage for the first time.

Some where between late February and early March is my Comedy-versary.  This year it will be nice years!  To celebrate I wanted to share an excerpt from my book and one from my act about realizing my dream to become a comedian.

The following is a excerpt from my upcoming book Stutterer Interrupted: The Comedian Who Almost Didn’t Happen.

“Looking back at it now, all my future happiness hinged on that one decision to get up on stage. I have met some of my best friends in the trenches of San Francisco comedy, an assorted gaggle of misfits baring their souls to strangers in dive bars and laundromats. Comedy put me on the path to embracing all aspects of myself, allowing me to express my ideas on my own terms and become a professional speaker. Funny how people are more impressed with “stuttering dyslexic comedian” than “kinda funny unpublished academic with a doctorate,” even though I’m still the same person. It’s just a shift of perspective.

Shifting your perspective: that is key.”

From the Invisible Disabilities Show at the Punch Line Sacramento…

When And How Do You Disclose You Stutter?

How do you Disclose your stuttering?

 

Every new situation for me as a person who stutters is a struggle of when and if I disclose.  Ordering at a restaurant, should I let them know?  Talking to someone at the cable company on the phone…do I tell them?  I got pulled over the other day and I definitely told the police officer!

In this video I joke about my favorite way to disclose (what I really mean when I say).  What are your favorite ways to disclose your stuttering?

 

 

 

Transforming How We Think About Stuttering

I am happy to share one of the chapters from my book Stutterer Interrupted: The Comedian Who Almost Didn’t Happen (debuts August 6, 2019 but available for pre-order now).  One note before you read this offering.  I encourage everyone reading to think about how they think about stuttering (whether or not you are a person who stutters) and what you would like to think and feel about stuttering.  To assist, I have included a blank iceberg that can be used by people to create their own version of the stuttering iceberg.  You have permission to use this for your presentations, clinical work and wherever else it might be helpful!

berg brand

 

Transforming The Iceberg

I have very little control over my stutter. I wouldn’t even call it control; it’s more like I have to bargain with it. “Hey Nina’s Stutter, if I put on my ‘business voice’ and totally not sound like myself, will you let me get through this one phone call with a stranger?” “If I allow this word or that word, will you at least stay out of my next sentence?” I get exhausted just thinking about it. If I planned my day around Nina’s Stutter, there wouldn’t be time for anything else. Life is short, and I’m not going to waste it trying to control what I can’t control.

Stuttering is one of the few constants in my life. My hair has changed, my clothes have changed, my address has changed—but Nina’s Stutter is here to stay. It has never changed, and it probably never will. But the way I think and feel about it has changed.

 

I used to hate Nina’s Stutter. I was ashamed of it. I devoted the best parts of my youth to fighting it, instead of doing things that made me feel happy or productive. The more I missed out on life, the more I blamed Nina’s Stutter, doubling down my efforts to kill it. If only I were fluent, everything else would fall into place! I could speak freely. I could have boys ask me to prom. I could even follow my dreams and be a stand-up comic. All I had to do was stop stuttering!

When I write it down, it seems so ridiculous. How can some pauses and a few extra syllables take control of a person’s life?

That question became a point of focus for Joseph Sheehan, a clinical researcher and psychologist where?. Throughout his career, he observed that stuttering was typically more disruptive to a person’s emotional wellbeing than it was to their actual speech. In Stuttering: Research and Therapy (1970), Sheehan writes that “stuttering is like an iceberg, with only a small part above the waterline and a much bigger part below.” According to Sheehan, what most people think of as “stuttering” is only the tip of iceberg—the outwardly observable symptoms on the surface. But the emotional baggage that it carries—the invisible pain underneath—that’s the bulk of the ice. Sheehan organized these murky, underwater emotions into seven categories: fear, denial, shame, anxiety, isolation, guilt, and hopelessness. According to Sheehan, as the stutterer resolves these issues, the negative emotions begin to “evaporate.” This in turn causes the “waterline” to lower, until, finally, all that remains is the physical stutter. 

Sheehan’s book became highly influential in its field. The iceberg theory advanced a more holistic view of stuttering, inspiring professionals to consider more than just the sounds coming out of a person’s mouth. It also helped me think about my own experience. I have all those emotions below the water. I have felt guilty, for making people wait through a stalled sentence. I have felt isolated, especially before discovering the stuttering community. But most of all, I have felt shame, simply for speaking the way that I speak.

 Although it provides a useful framework, I don’t think Sheehan’s Iceberg presents the full picture. Sure, it explains the negative things we feel, but what about the other emotions? Just like everyone else, the life of a stutterer is filled with ups and downs, victories and defeats, good times and bad times. Even if your overall situation doesn’t change, things might look better or worse on a given day depending what side of the bed you wake up on. It’s all a matter of perspective.

If you’ve ever laid on the grass and looked up at the clouds, you know how easily perspective can change. One minute this cloud looks like a dragon; the next minute it looks like a bunny rabbit. Unless El Niño is brewing up an apocalyptic tornado, that cloud probably hasn’t changed much in the last sixty seconds. Instead, you let your eyes wander, reoriented your perspective, and unknowingly formed a different mental picture of the same thing.

If it can be done with literal clouds, then it can be done with metaphorical icebergs. Stuttering doesn’t have to be a bad experience if we change our perspective. Before I found the stuttering community, my perspective was all negative. I was isolated, ashamed, and everything else Sheehan packs into that sad popsicle. But when I found the National Stuttering Project during that summer in high school, something changed. I was no longer isolated–I had found a community. I was no longer ashamed. Maybe even… proud?

Sheehan writes about negative emotions evaporating until only a stutter remains. I disagree. When bad feelings subside, other feelings have to take their place. We don’t refer to happiness as “not sadness,” or confidence as “not embarrassment.” The negative emotions in Sheehan’s Iceberg all have positive equivalents. I propose that we can do more than simply make the bad feelings go away; we have the power to transform fear, shame, anxiety, isolation, denial, guilt, and hopelessness into feelings of courage, pride, comfort, community, acceptance, kindness, and hope.

So how do we do that? Although the negative emotions in Sheehan’s Iceberg are common to the stuttering experience, they are common because we live in a society that treats people with disabilities as substandard. But we don’t have to buy into it. All the weird looks we get in public, all the shitty images we see in the media, all the lowered expectations that people project onto us—they can all be thrown out and replaced with something better. Instead of struggling to conform to the ideals of a culture that makes us feel deficient, we can cultivate our own perspective and learn to love ourselves as we are. Every person who stutters has the responsibility to create their own iceberg—one that reflects their best possible self.

How we are perceived is largely influenced by how we perceive ourselves. When I began to accept my stutter, so did the people around me. Friends and family stopped offering advice on how to improve my fluency. People stopped thinking of me as a weirdo (at least after high school). Obviously there is a limit to how much self-perception can determine the views of others: I can’t force an asshole to stop being an asshole, as we’ve seen countless times in this book. But I can determine my own worth and decide which assholes are beneath me. I can share my values with the world, doing what I can to sway us from that asshole culture toward something more loving and equitable.

Promoting stuttering acceptance has been one of my greatest missions in life. Everyone who interacts with us, thinks about us, studies us, works with us, produces movies and TV shows about us, reports on us—they all have stuttering icebergs too! The strange and shitty ways they treat us stem from murky emotions below the tip of the iceberg. If we are ever going to overcome discrimination, we have to address the emotional baggage of these people as well. It’s not going to be easy. It’s hard enough to understand my own feelings toward stuttering, much less model them for others! All I can do is put myself in front of the public and try my best—in bars and comedy clubs, on college campuses, in online videos and social media, and now on in this book. Changing minds isn’t easy, but I’ll take that over trying to change how I speak.

 

Stutterer Interrupted: The Comedian Who Almost Didn’t Happen is available for pre-order now through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Ingram, Baker Taylor and your local bookstore.  Debuts August 6, 2019!

apetizer
Image is a JPG, but a high quality version in PDF is linked below.

high quality base iceberg

Stuttering Comedian and Author to Headline Punch Line Sacramento

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Stuttering stand up comic Nina G will have the top spot at the Invisible Disabilities Comedy Show at the Sacramento Punch Line on Sunday, January 27 2019! Author of the forthcoming book Stutterer Interrupted: The Comedian Who Almost Didn’t Happen, Nina’s comedy is funny, revealing, unapologetic, and always a window to her experience as a person who stutters. Through humor, Nina G is challenging now people think of stuttering.

Nina’s brand of comedy highlights that the problem with disabilities is not the people with them, but a society that isn’t inclusive. Nina thinks the recent trend of online stories featuring “clever” ways people “cured” their stuttering may be sending the wrong message to those who are non-stuttering speakers, offers.  Nina adds, “focusing on changing us instead of living our lives gives the wrong message to the public.” Always one to model in herself what she expects from others, her humor is accessible to all who are ready for a good laugh!

Bio

When Nina G started comedy nearly eight years ago, she was the only woman who stuttered in the world doing stand-up. Undaunted after battling a lifetime of stigma, Nina pursued her dream.

Nina G is a comedian, professional speaker, writer and educator. She brings her humor to help people confront and understand Disability culture, access, and empowerment.

Book

Nina G’s latest book, Stutterer Interrupted: The Comedian Who Almost Didn’t Happen

is a memoir, published by She Writes Press, will be released August 6, 2019.

Nina tells the story of her journey of how she became, at the time she started, America’s only female stuttering stand-up comedian. On stage, Nina encounters the occasional heckler, but off stage she is often confronted with people’s comments toward her stuttering. Listeners completing her sentences, inquiring “did you forget your name?” and giving unwanted advice like “slow down and breathe” are common.  As if she never thought about slowing down and breathing in her over thirty years of stuttering!  In Stutterer Interrupted… Nina confronts these interruptions and so much more!

What the show is about and the awareness that it brings

Producers, Ali Ada and and Drew Kimzey each live with multiple disabilities that substantially limit their lives, yet you might never know it. They’re both passionate about comedy but have significant obstacles that can prevent them from achieving their goals. The desire to turn their obstacles into strengths inspired the idea for this show.

Line up includes: Chey Bell, Jeanette Marin, Sureini Weerasekera, Anihca Cihla, Nicole Tran, Emily Pedersen and Kelley Nicole. Hosted by Amber Whitford.

In the 18 months since Coral got her start in comedy she has gathered a significant following with her shockingly real and relatable story telling. After going through a major medical crisis she took to stage with her natural, conversational humor and absurd comedy style and never looked back. Many of her jokes surround her new life post surgery as a young, broke, female adjusting to having an ostomy bag. She performs all over the Bay Area sharing her unabashed tales in major clubs such as the SF Punch Line and the San Jose Improv, bringing light to her not-dinner-table-appropriate disability (aka her poop bag.)

Quote from here:  “Talking about my ostomy bag on stage not only helped me to accept my new body and situation but educated others on a struggle they knew nothing, to little, about. It’s not just about making people laugh, it’s about drawing them in to your life enough that they begin to invest in attempting to understand your experience, with your disability. It gives my comedy more purpose to know I’m doing my part to reach out to the audience and share that we are all going through some type of invisible struggle, and here I am being open and honest about mine in an attempt to bring us all closer together.”

Invisible Disabilities Comedy Show

Show: Sunday, January 27, 2019

http://www.punchlinesac.com.  (18+ 2 drink min)

916-925-8500

The Punch Line Sacramento

2100 Arden Way

Sacramento, CA 95825

Produced by Ali Ada and Drew Kimzey

Media Contact:

Nina G

NinaGbooking@gmail.com

510-922-0179

###

 

show id.nina

A Guide for Disability Awareness Events On Your Campus

Planning events at a college can be daunting, but also very rewarding!  Speakers can demonstrate the power of the Disability experience and inspire students in ways that are long lasting and life changing.  Speakers can help to change attitudes of the larger college community and help people question what they think they know about disability.

Somethings to consider when booking a Disability awareness Speaker include:

  1. Contact the potential speaker or artist. Find out their fees, availability and what they have to offer.
  2. Follow the money! Investigate how to fund the speaker. Can different committees or departments collaborate to sponsor the event?
  3. Check to see if other events are scheduled. Remember, home coming and finals week may not be the best weeks to hold your event!
  4. Book your speaker!
  5. Collaborate with other department and committees for co-sponsorship. Even if they aren’t funding the speaker, you can use the help to get the word out.
Bonus Tip: Collaborate with a professor and hold the event during their class. That way you can guarantee your event will be well attended. The professor can work the event into the class. Works great for everyone!

 

Planning an event but not sure where to start or what to do?  Take a look at this guide intended for colleges wanting to educate their communities on disability issues.  Even if you are not at a college or you are producing non-Disability related events, this information can still be useful.

PULLING OFF A SUCCESSFUL EVENT ON YOUR COLLEGE CAMPUS:  https://ninagcomedian.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/pulling-off-a-successful-event-at-your-college-campus/

10 TIPS FOR MARKETING YOUR NEXT COLLEGE OR COMMUNITY EVENT:  https://ninagcomedian.wordpress.com/2015/08/10/10-tips-for-marketing-you-next-college-or-community-event/

FUNDING DISABILITY AWARENESS EVENTS ON YOUR COLLEGE CAMPUS:  https://ninagcomedian.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/funding-disability-awareness-events-on-your-college-campus/

1*tB0dA_v-GdbrzgVsbYAY9g

Comedian Who Stutters Goes Beyond the Punch Lines

Sacramento, CA – Nina G bills herself as “The San Francisco Bay Area’s Only Female Stuttering Comedian”. Less obvious about this stand-up comedian, social activist, and author, is that she also has a learning disability.

Both Nina G’s stutter and her learning disability are subjects in her new one woman show, Stutterer Interrupted. In a world where people with disabilities are often portrayed solely as being inspirational, or are otherwise presented through the filter of perceptions of people without disabilities, Nina’s latest offering is a refreshingly authentic representation. An intensely personal work, Stutterer Interrupted is based on Nina’s own life experiences, with herself as the messenger. And Nina G has a lot to say!

The show covers everything from how Nina struggled in school, to learning from her parents what in means to be an advocate, to finding her voice, both as a woman with disabilities and as a stand up comedian. Stutterer Interrupted is carefully crafted in a way that validates the disability experience for both people with and without Disabilities.

Nina G has been challenging attitudes about Disability since she did stand-up for the first time in 2010. “How many people with Disabilities does it take to screw in a light bulb?” Answer: “One to screw it in and 5 able bodied people to say ‘You are such an inspiration!’” This joke is a favorite in Nina G’s stand-up routine. It brings to light (no pun intended) the struggle people with Disabilities have in an able-bodied society that reduces them to images of “inspirations” and “overcomers”.

Her solo piece came about as Nina G increasingly got requests to do longer shows and to perform at colleges. In developing her material, Nina weeded out bits of her nightclub act that would not be appropriate for some venues. In the process, Nina also discovered that she wanted her life experiences to go beyond fodder for jokes and punchlines; she wanted them to become teachable moments for audiences that validate the disability experience. And so, her one woman show, Stutterer Interrupted, was born.

“I really wanted to have some kind of avenue to talk about some of the things in my life and to take a longer time to delve into those experiences. This show gives me that opportunity”, says Nina.

Stutterer Interrupted  is not Nina G’s first foray into delving deeper into the subject of Disability advocacy. In 2014 she published Once Upon an Accommodation: a book about Learning Disabilities. The Second Edition includes  a workbook so that people with Learning Disabilities can develop their own voice in terms of advocating for themselves. The idea is that a child can use this book to facilitate a dialogue with a teacher or classmates, and adults can use this book  as well when asking for an accommodation for their child.

New for 2019 her book, Stutterer Interrupted: The Comedian Who Almost Didn’t Happen, is Nina’s memoir that chronicles her journey to and in stand up comedy.

Always striving to balance her strong activist voice with a good dose of comedy, Nina says, “There is an ongoing struggle of tending to be preachy but wanting to be funny at the same time. I think that’s a balance that I really need to have.” Nina goes on to emphasize:  “For the topic of disability it’s especially important to utilize humor as a tool to open up dialogue, because people’s defenses are so high.” Nina finds that people don’t want to talk about disabilities, which is ironic because, as she points out, “The Disabled Community is one of the few minority groups that people can join at absolutely any time in their life.”

You can catch Nina G in the one woman show, Stutterer Interrupted, on November 29, 2018 from 12:00-1:00pm at the Sacramento City College Student Center (labeled “STC” on the campus map: https://www.scc.losrios.edu/catalog/files/CampusMap.pdf). For more information go to, visit www.ninagcomedian.comNina-flyer_interrrupted-full_11-29-2018 final.jpg

 

Almost 75 ways to bring Universal Design for Learning into your college classroom

Thanks to all who participated in my workshop on Universal Design for Learning at the California Association of Postsecondary Education and Disability conference.  During the workshop we did a gallery walk to generate ideas of how to implement UDL into the classroom.  I am happy to report that you came up with 74 ways!  Check it out!

Comment on this post if you have tried anything new in the classroom since the workshop or have other ideas!

Kinetic

  • doing cotton ball passing game to demo dendrites
  • performance for assessment
  • role play
  • scavenger hunt
  • game to demonstrate such as monopoly
  • create something such as drawings, collages, or posters.
  • pair up with a partner sitting on the other side of the class.
  • informational interviews,
  • pottery class
  • gamifying the lecture.
  • make cards or slips of paper with items on them to have small groups. Organize them to create structures, outlines for writing or reading categories to support learning of concepts.
  • in content classes continuum line, have students physically placed themselves along a clear path of travel in the classroom or hallway to illustrate where they are on an issue or question
  • variation for coroners: have students go to the corner that best fits their response to the question or controversy. can be used to put students in discussion group early math with an abacus.
  • going to support programs around campus
  • service learning group projects,
  • put community or campus events on teach someone or present,
  • get out of the classroom,
  • completing case studies using TV or movie characters,
  • break up class into small groups to discuss and work together.
  • take a minimum five minutes minute break every hour.

Auditory

  • videos
  • storytelling
  • guided meditation
  • tones for terms
  • prerecord articles through voice note function on your phone and post to Canvas for those who would like the auditory
  • have students read aloud important texts in class: “golden lines” from reading, selected paragraphs or quotations before discussing these terms. Terms and their own definitions to peer teach or check and monitor their own comprehension
  • to memorize, record the information, then listen to it.
  • debate
  • songs on the topic or the things.

Visuals

  • 60 seconds,
  • powerpoint
  • videos,
  • program sheets,
  • flow charts,
  • diagrams,
  • graphic organizers (see inspiration.com),
  • screenshots of computer program processes or software.
  • picture of images (go to Google images)
  • While the matching words are said
  • create info graphics for almost any content
  • have students or teachers explain a concept in comic book form or to practice a sequence.
  • writing names of colors in the same color ink.
  • color coding main ideas, details with highlights, topic sentence in color or post its.
  • tangible objects instead of pictures,
  • pictures, memes, gifs,
  • youtube videos,
  • how to videos,
  • Kahoot
  • popcon,
  • use video material that they are interested in, which applies to what is being taught on canvas.
  • plan poster,
  • post powerpoints in advance,
  • summary of what we learned that worked.
  • create Study Guide and adding to it
  • posts all the texts accessible and advance in lecture.
  • Use simple statements/clear bullets. No heavy text.

Emotions:

  • find a way to remember students quickly,
  • opportunities to share stories and opinions.
  • thirty second reflection,
  • self reflection (metacognition) often projects, quizzes, inactivities,
  • peer support to your students.
  • try to arrive early to class, stay after class for questions and be present in your posted office hours.
  • talk time to connect on papers and demonstrations you are taking in vested interest in your students.
  • make the effort to get to know your students beginning of the semester.
  • ask  students to share a little about themselves, goals in the class for their learning style and he requested accommodations.
  • clips from movies or TV shows that connect to what we’re learning,
  • sharing personal and emotional stories that illustrate a theory
  • daily, checkins
  • bio. Introduce yourself to me and what your goals are.
  • emotional presentation,
  • icebreakers
  • sensory in recalling your memory,
  • Holland code and island hopping.
  • having students do primary research, interviews, surveys, small group discussion with question prompts.

together-1