Josh Menchions earned lots of laughs from a packed house at Bearly’s House of Blues & Ribs during the opening set of his Halifax comedy tour.
“It’s a bit of a different crowd,” Menchions, 30, said in an interview, adding it’s his first time performing in the city.
He’s living with the effects of a brain stem injury. Menchions has limited use of his body and gets around with the help of a wheelchair. He said his disability is linked to a car crash; he was 10 months old and his mother died.
“I’m very open about it and I’m not really a shy guy, which makes it easy to share my experience,” said Menchions, who is from St. John’s, N.L.
He said he’s been performing comedy since 2019 and uses it as an opportunity to talk about disabilities and the importance of accessibility in public spaces.
For his first joke of the night on March 8, he talked about a woman who approached him in a grocery store and handed him $10. He said he had two options: tell her off or take the money and buy weed.
“I’m not in the business of making an old woman cry,” said Menchions. “Can you guess which one I did?”
His other bits included pornography and the struggles of online dating.
Neale Rait was in the audience and noted the “subtlety to his comedy compared to some other comics that performed, whose entire sets were spent loudly yelling into the mic.”
Menchions’ style “had a bit more of a slow burn to it, which I liked a lot,” said Rait.
Comedy isn’t his only passion — Menchions is an advocate for people with disabilities.
Along with business partner Kelly McGuire, Menchions works with businesses, organizations, and individuals to make buildings, transit, and homes more inclusive. They also create ‘Community Talks’ videos on their YouTube channel, Accessible NL.
Bearly’s did not have an accessibility ramp inside — Menchions had to perform next to the stage, rather than on it.
Catherine Robertson, host of the Bearly’s Comedy Hour, told The Signal that should change.
“I think we need to make greater efforts to find out how we can make spaces more accessible,” said Robertson “It’s so important to welcome everyone we can to be on these mics and share their comedy with us.”
McGuire accompanied Menchions to Halifax and offered a solution.
“It’s easy to get a portable aluminum ramp,” said McGuire. “Most of the places where Josh performs in St. John’s, they go out and get one so that he can get up on the stage.”
Menchions performed alongside other comedians with disabilities at ‘LaughAbility!’, a fundraiser for the Dartmouth Adult Services Centre at the Westin Nova Scotian on March 9.
He appeared at The Dart Gallery in Dartmouth on March 10, Gus’ Pub on March 13 and Oasis on March 14 to complete the tour.