Feature

Twisted

March 2007

I ask Blue what response his idea got from the NBC folks. He turns his head away, as if having a spasm, and says only, “They liked it.” I ask him if there’s any talk of a timetable for getting the show into production. The optimism fades from his eyes. “No, not really. There’s a lot of business shit I don’t understand.” With that, he gets up from the couch and says he’s got some things he needs to do: stop over at Comedy Works, go to the bank, that sort of thing. I ask him if he needs a ride. Without thinking, I say, “It’s a long walk.” And Blue, without thinking, says, “No, I’m going to ride my bike.”

A couple of days after I meet with Blue at his home, the Hollywood trade paper Variety reports some news about I’m With Stupid. Peter and Bobby Farrelly, the brothers who have produced and directed movies like Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, There’s Something About Mary, and The Ringer (about a “normal” kid who fakes being mentally handicapped to take part in the Special Olympics) are taking over the development of the TV show. The plot, as described in Variety, centers “on an unlucky guy who becomes friends with a man who uses a wheelchair—and moves into his home for the disabled.” Curiously, the article makes no mention of Josh Blue.

Wondering if the Variety report inadvertently omitted Blue’s name, I call the Farrelly brothers’ production offices in L.A. Bradley Thomas, an executive producer for the developing show, takes my call, and when I ask him if Josh Blue has been cast, Bradley responds, “Who’s Josh Blue?” I tell him Blue is the guy who just won Last Comic Standing. “Oh, that’s right. I’ve heard about him. Is he funny?” Thomas says he knows of no immediate plans to take a meeting with Blue.

When I call Peter Engel, an executive producer of Last Comic Standing, to see what he knows about Blue’s NBC development-deal, he tells me that he doesn’t think I’m With Stupid would be right for Blue. In fact, Engel, a creator of the long-running smash teen comedy Saved by the Bell, says, “I [don’t] feel the guy who has the disability should be the butt of the joke. I would love to have Josh for a development deal of my own, but for a year he belongs to the network. See, I would use Josh’s wisdom.”

Yet it’s hard to find the wisdom in Engel’s idea. The show Engel has in mind would be a cross between the movie Down and Out in Beverly Hills, in which Nick Nolte, playing a homeless guy, moves in with and changes the life of a rich Beverly Hills family, and Alf, the ’80s sitcom, in which a Muppetlike alien moves in with and changes the life of an average American family. “Josh’s character,” Engel says, “would just be Josh: someone who is so outrageously funny and lovable. Like an Alf character. It would be about the impact he has on the family.… Josh reminds me a lot of Screech [the chronic butt-of-the-joke dork on Saved by The Bell]. “Whenever there would be a dead spot on Saved by The Bell, I would write in the margins of the script, ‘We need more Screech.’”

On one hand, Blue has the slim chance of being cast as the Stupid lovable sap with CP in an American rip-off of a British idea. Or he could play a normal American family’s lovable Muppet—the human equivalent of a cymbal-banging monkey. Standing on the stage the night he won Last Comic Standing, Blue never would have dreamed of such crippling possibilities.

Not that other people’s ignorance and stunted imaginations would have discouraged him. When he auditioned for that fourth season of Last Comic Standing, it wasn’t the first time he’d taken a shot at the show; he’d auditioned for an earlier season, to no avail. “I was like, obviously they’re not listening to what I’m saying; they’re looking at me and not at my personality. Maybe I wasn’t what they were looking for, or they weren’t ready. This time I don’t think they had a choice; they’d been hearing a lot about me from other people.” That’s the thing about Blue: He knows the world is loaded with slow people who need time to get his joke; he knows that while he kills on stage, it takes time to really change the way people think. He’s funny, and a little twisted, but he ain’t stupid.

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