Flawed, foul-mouthed and funny: how cerebral palsy became TV comedy gold

From the riotous office humour of Jerk to the satirical genius of Special, TV is finally embracing characters with cerebral palsy. We ask the stars of this new wave: is this a watershed moment? ‘It took years to convince someone to make this show,” says Ryan O’Connell. “First of all, my book flopped and sold two copies.” Called I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves, the book was a moving and hilarious account of something he had been hiding in the popular blogs he had written about his life as a gay millennial. Like 17 million other people around the world, O’Connell has cerebral palsy, a condition affecting muscular coordination. Four years on, Special, the comedy series based on his book, is airing on Netflix to great acclaim. Written by and starring O’Connell as a fictionalised version of himself, Special follows the writer as he interns at a clickbait journalism site called Eggwoke that publishes confessional blogs headlined “50 Ways to Hate Myself” or “Why Do I Keep Finding Things in My Vagina?” When his colleagues assume his condition is the result of a car accident, and not cerebral palsy, he goes along with it. Related: ‘I use cerebral palsy to get away with a lot’: the shameless star of sitcom Jerk I don’t like that disabled people are never flawed Humour cuts through discomfort. It covers the vegetables in sugar Continue reading… [hmp_player]