Blind Ambition

One of the primary functions of the Physically Handicapped Actors and Musical Artists League is to help normalize the way other people perceive and behave toward folks with disabilities. The handicapped actors of the PHAMALy troupe don’t want you to turn your eyes away from them, or, conversely, treat them as if they are “special.” In their world, sitting in a wheelchair or being deaf is just another part of being human. And that intention is particularly addressed in the company’s annual comedy show, now in its fourth year. The thirteen cast members — whether deaf, blind or a wheelchair-bound double amputee — did a lion’s share of writing and developing this year’s Vox Phamalia: Quadrapalooza, a sketch show unlike any other.

“It’s funny. It’s really funny,” says director Edith Weiss. “It’s a whole new way to look at disabilities and the people who have them. You know how a lot of people avert their eyes? After watching this show, you’ll realize that you never have to avert your eyes again.

“People think a show like this is going to be all maudlin and full of self-pity,” she adds. “But it’s the exact opposite. We have one sketch about a deaf woman who is stopped by a cop, and the hitchhiker with her is a mime. We have fantasy greeting cards created specifically for disabled friends when you can’t find exactly the right words, like the one that says ‘Congratulations on your penis still working!’ or ‘I would have gotten you a nicer card, but you’re blind.’” The cards will also be available for purchase at the theater.

See Quadrapalooza at the Avenue Theater, 417 East 17th Avenue, beginning tonight at 7:30 p.m. and continuing Fridays through Sundays (and October 31) through November 6, or catch an encore on November 7 or 8 at Wit’s End Comedy Club, 6080 West 92nd Avenue in Westminster. Tickets are $12 to $15; visit for more information.
Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Mon., Oct. 31, 7:30 p.m. Starts: Oct. 28. Continues through Nov. 6, 2011


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