Comedian Bill Picard, performs at Universities, Colleges, Private Shows and Benefits in New England. One of a kind show that the students and others will never forget.
Comedian Bill Picard does R or PG Jokes about life.
The text of the interview.
We often think of people with Cerebral Palsy as being trapped in a bad body. With that in mind, what do you want the public to think of people with CP?
You are 100% right! That is why a portion of my act is about the questions people ask me and the sarcastic answers I think but can’t say out loud. If my audiences learn something while they are laughing, then I did my job. Too many of us look on the negative side of things so I try to get the audience to turn their negative thinking around. When I tell these jokes, people start to change their preconceived ideas and see that everyone is different, but we all have wants, needs, and goals. Cerebral palsy often affects muscle coordination. So, if I tell a couple of jokes about this, maybe they will not be so uneasy next time they see someone with cerebral palsy.
I also hope that my audiences realize that people with cerebral palsy or other challenges may still be able to accomplish more than anyone could have imagined. I want people to think of possibilities, not just disabilities.
I sense that people are a little uncomfortable around you when you start. Does their nervousness help you make them laugh?
Definitely! For any comedian the first joke is very important because, it gets the audience’s attention. When I get on stage in my wheelchair, you can hear a pin drop. However, when I tell my first joke, everybody starts to laugh and relax. Then they will be more apt to listen to my jokes and realize that everyone is different but very much the same.
You must have been nervous the first time you did standup.
All speakers and comedians get nervous but like anything else the more times you experience things the more comfortable and less nervous you become. So, I was not as nervous as other new comedians because I have been a motivational speaker for over ten years at public schools, Boy and Girl Scout camps, and other places. I have tried to break down the misconceptions that people have about disabilities through an innovative form of education: sharing my real life experiences. After ten years, it got frustrating because schools loved to have me but most just did not have the money for it. So, I changed my focus to comedy. Now, I would like to bring my unique style of stand-up comedy to high schools as a fundraiser for Project Graduation, and to colleges all over New England.
Have you always been a funny guy?
I think so!! I always liked making my assistants laugh because, then they become more comfortable around me. Then, I started adding a few jokes to my motivational speeches, and people really reacted more to the jokes than to the rest of what I was saying. So, when I saw a flyer at the Comedy Connection about a comedy workshop, I thought it would be interesting to sign up. Three years later, I am on your show talking about my act. If people don’t take the initiative to try something new, then they never will know what they might be able to achieve.
What’s your favorite venue?
Anyplace where the management will put their fears aside and put me on!
Are you getting many gigs?
The first couple of years are hard for any comedian to get gigs. Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts was my first performance as a headliner. I also have performed at the Boston’s Comedy Connection five times. The Comedy Connection in Portland is where I took the workshop, and I have performed here over thirty times. I also have a web site that lists where I have performed and where I am going to perform in the future. It also has a press packet with a demo making it easy for you and the Campus Activities Boards to look at. HA, HA, HA! www.billpicard.com. February 27th, I am performing at my first high school as a fundraiser for Project Graduation.
What high school will you be performing at on February 27th?
Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School!
(Working) What makes a good comedian?
Connecting with the audience is key. This is why the first couple of jokes are very important to setup the rest of the jokes. Then you have to tell jokes that everyone understands and relates to. Timing is very important also. I have to write and program my entire act before hand, so I have to anticipate when people are going to laugh.
Are there any messages you are trying to get across?
Both my motivational speaking and my comedy have many messages about life but in my comedy I can be blunter about things that people feel uncomfortable talking about. My jokes are not the most important thing; my messages are. Yes, some of my comedy has adult content but all of it contains life lessons. I also make jokes about my college experiences because it shows that many young people with challenges can go on to higher education. Some of my comedy is “R” rated because it helps to get my point across. I tell jokes about relationships not just because they are funny. One of my messages is that everyone, no matter his or her situation, has dreams… so take a chance and go for it!
(Goals) Where do you go from here?
Good question! I would like to perform at all Maine’s high schools as a fundraiser for Project Graduation. I also would like to start performing at more and more colleges all over New England. Students and adults are more comfortable when they are laughing; therefore they might remember something that I said.