'Cripple Threat' comedian turns his hardships into hilarity
He's not just any comedian. He tells jokes. He makes you laugh. But it's what he jokes about, how he tells his story and the underlying message that'll have you hooked.
Ryan Niemiller is 36 years old, born and raised in Indiana. He grew up in a trailer park. He called himself poor, saying he often slept on the floor and not in a bed.
Niemiller's dad was a "hardcore alcoholic" but the two things he said they could bond over were the Chicago Cubs and stand-up comedy.
"I’ve been grinding and clawing and scratching for all this time, and then just suddenly it’s very strange that I know the exact seven minutes of time when my life changed," said Niemiller.
He went from performing gigs in small bars to performing on the big stage for America's Got Talent this spring.
You might notice Niemiller has a disability the second you see him. He jokes, saying the technical term is "being very handsome." Medically though, it's called muscular dystrophy. In his case, his lower arms and hands are deformed.
"I want to kind of teach people what it’s like to have a disability and what it’s like to exist with it," the comedian explained. "I’m the cripple threat of comedy."
In his stand-up comedy bits, he pokes fun at his disability. Often joking about dating, day-to-day challenges, and general human interaction with others, like going to the bathroom in a public bathroom.
Niemiller said he started telling jokes at a young age because he knew if he made fun of himself first, he could beat the bullies to the punchline. The comedian said it was his way to cope with bullying.
"I didn’t want to get bullied," Niemiller said. "That never seemed like a fun time. I kind of realized early if I made the jokes first, no one else was going to do it."
Niemiller believes he is happiest when he is on stage.
"I’m thankful for America’s Got Talent to not only give me the chance to do it but to put me in such a positive light," Niemiller explained. "The amount of messages I’ve gotten from parents of kids with disabilities who are like 'well I’m not as worried about my kid anymore,' that means a lot."
The comedian hopes him talking about his disability will allow children to feel comfortable about talking about theirs, giving them the confidence to break out of their shell.
"I love you," said judge Howie Mandel. "You deserve a spot on the show."
You can watch him live on NBC2 in the live shows at the end of August.
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