Nina Mitchell of Mindpop on The Moth Radio Hour

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Ever felt like it’s wrong to tell stories about disability in a way that makes people laugh? Well, if it’s the disabled person themselves telling the story and getting the laughs, you probably shouldn’t feel bad. It’s different if you make fun of us. But if we’re the ones making the fun and making the funny, come along.

Some people feel like it’s mean to laugh at a disabled person’s own jokes about disability, but that would only be true if disabled people were weak and defenseless. We’re not. Some people feel like a life with disability is automatically sad or angelic or to be revered. Nah, that just kind of seems boring and dismissive of all the other parts of someone’s life and identity. How about you start with each person and go from there? If we’re telling funny stories and going for laughs, go ahead with the laugh. Otherwise, it’s kind of alienating for us to make some funnies, and then you sit there looking at us with discomfort. Laughter is often a social event. If we’re comfortable, you can let yourself be too.

So here is Nina Mitchell on The Moth Radio Hour, which is a live true storytelling event for radio that happens in lots of cities in the U.S. Nina starts with a story about having aphasia where she felt trapped in a cage because she couldn’t use language to communicate her ideas after a stroke. And she turns a phrase so nicely and deliciously that you know she wants you to laugh with her and respect her humor as much as the serious parts of her tale. She may have been in pain when she couldn’t communicate as well, but she knows the value of a good giggle.

Find Nina blogging online at where she describes herself and blog like this: “I am a quirky young woman whose Mind went Pop. I was 26 when a stroke took away my limbs and speech. This stroke comic book is designed to make you think. Mindpop. Strokes are hell. They have dark comedy too.” Because aphasia limited her communication for a while, she’s opted to write her blog posts extremely short and sweet. She always uses pictures. It’s brilliant stuff.