Funny-woman Maysoon Zayid has the receipts. She co-created the Arab-American Comedy Festival with fellow comic Dean Obeidallah and her Ted Talk I got 99 problems … palsy is just one has been viewed more than 8.6 million times. As someone with cerebral palsy, she has become a powerful disability activist while also bringing recognition as a Palestinian-American comedian. She is also known as the first comic to perform stand-up in Palestine and Jordan.
ABC News says that “once you’ve met Maysoon Zayid, it is impossible to forget her.” Despite Ms. Zayid’s obvious talent (and immense charm, see interview), she says having a visible disability has impacted her career as an entertainer. According to a recent report from Ruderman, “Though 20 percent of Americans live with a disability, disabled speaking roles comprise only 2 percent on television. Of that two percent, 95 percent are played by non-disabled actors. “
“When I became a comedian the whole family was really worried,” Ms. Zayid tells ABC News. “And they were like, ‘We need you to become a lawyer. We have figured out that law is what you can do with your disability.” Closing with a final quip, “Because I couldn’t be a heart surgeon. That would just be totally unwise.”