The University Record, October 2, 1995

Investing in Ability Week features Fonseca

Audiences may notice Chris “Crazy Legs” Fonseca’s disability first. Cerebral palsy necessitates that his entrance on-stage be via a walker or a wheelchair, and he has a speech impediment. But Fonseca’s humor allows audiences to acknowledge his handicap and then forget about it in the laughter the stand-up comedian elicits when he jokes about everything from his marriage to bad hair days.

Fonseca has made appearances on the Arsenio Hall Show, Evening at the Improv, Comedy on the Road and Entertainment Tonight. He will appear at the University Club in the Michigan Union 8 p.m. Oct. 11 as a feature of Investing in Ability Week, the U-M’s week-long salute to overcoming disabilities and focusing on what people can do instead of focusing on their limitations, slated Oct. 9–13.

Fonseca was born with cerebral palsy and turned to humor to make a living after being overlooked for a position of editor on his campus newspaper.

“The publication board felt the staff couldn’t deal with a handicapped editor,” Fonseca says. “I decided I needed to do something where I can use my handicap as an asset rather than a liability.” So he started to do stand-up routines in night clubs and found that his handicap always worked to his advantage.

Fonseca credits his great grandfather with some of his sense of humor.

“He told me one time, ‘You handicapped people have it easy today. When I was a kid we didn’t even have wheelchairs. I had to be dragged to school.’ ”

Fonseca’s performance is sponsored by the Council for Disability Concerns, Housing Special Programs and Services for Students with Disabilities.

Other events slated for Investing in Ability Week are:

Oct. 10: 10 a.m., Council for Disability Concerns annual meeting, Kuenzel Room, Michigan Union.

11 a.m., Presentation of the Neubacher Award. The award will be presented to three people who worked as a team to produce “This/Ability: An Interdisciplinary Conference on Arts and Disabilities,” a national conference held at the U-M last May. Susan Crutchfield and Marcy Epstein, both doctoral students in English language and literature, and Joanne Leonard, professor of art, “contributed generously of their time and talents to transform the dream of hosting a national conference on artistic and disability concerns into a successful reality.”

Oct. 11: 8 p.m., University Club, Michigan Union. Chris Fonseca. Tickets are $8, $5 for students.

Oct. 12: 7–9 p.m., Ehrlicher Room, 411 W. Engineering Building. “Services for the Disabled: Working Smarter/Thinking Together/Creating Change—Community Collaboration for Library and Information Accessibility.” Sponsored by the School of Information and Library Studies, this panel discussion and demonstration of new technology and software will demonstrate how professions are making information readily available to those with disabilities. Panelists: Sam Goodin, director, Services for Students with Disabilities; Jim Knox, adaptive technology coordinator, Information Technology Division; Glen Ashlock and Donn Hilker, rehabilitation engineers, U-M Hospitals.