Philly Comedian With a Disability Gets Her Big Break in Amy Poehler, Billy Eichner Comedy
Did you catch local comedian Shannon DeVido on Comedy Central’s new The Nightly Show this week? The Philadelphia funny lady guested in anticipation of her role in Difficult People, a USA comedy by Amy Poehler and Billy Eichner. A quick clip:
The part in Difficult People is a big deal for her—not only because it fulfills her dream of being yelled at by Billy Eichner—but she was cast in a role that—despite the fact that she has Spinal Muscular Atrophy and uses a wheelchair—didn’t call for an actor who uses a wheelchair. She chats about that in a nice writeup on Bustle.
I play this crazy storyteller… I get on stage and Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner are making fun of me … Any actor with a disability has been pigeon-holed into playing a person with a disability and normally they’re sad and pathetic characters. In this, I get to play a funky role. She wears glasses, so my agent submitted me and I just kind of fit the acting style they were looking for. And it turned out I was the right person for the part, and that I think that specific role is so exciting to me because of that one fact [that it didn’t actually call for a wheelchair]. Very, very, very rarely do you ever hear a casting director make that call, and she did. …
The 32-year-old actor and comedian got her start in Philadelphia, performing with Philly Improv Theater, among others. She also has a hilarious YouTube series, “Stare at Shannon,” where she posts videos of herself in a variety of hilarious situations to highlight how people react to people with disabilities.
So much of my teenage life was devoted to not being a person in a wheelchair, which sounds so strange because it’s not like I ever wasn’t. Once I kind of embraced who I was and was OK with who I was and becoming OK with making fun of it, then I feel like this whole new world opened up to me. And it’s so fun to bend society’s perspective for your advantage and that’s what comedy is — taking something and molding it into something different and making people laugh. And making people laugh is the ultimate barrier knock down because if you can make someone laugh, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like.