Articles, Blog

I got 99 problems… palsy is just one | Maysoon Zayid

I got 99 problems… palsy is just one | Maysoon Zayid

Hello, TEDWomen, what’s up. (Cheering) Not good enough. Hello, TEDWomen, what is up? (Loud cheering) My name is Maysoon Zayid, and I am not drunk, but the doctor who delivered me was. He cut my mom six different times in six different directions, suffocating poor little me in the process. As a result, I have cerebral palsy, which means I shake all the time. Look. It’s exhausting. I’m like Shakira,
Shakira meets Muhammad Ali. (Laughter) CP is not genetic. It’s not a birth defect.
You can’t catch it. No one put a curse on my mother’s uterus, and I didn’t get it because
my parents are first cousins, which they are. (Laughter) It only happens from accidents, like what happened to me on my birth day. Now, I must warn you, I’m not inspirational. (Laughter) And I don’t want anyone in this room
to feel bad for me, because at some point in your life, you have dreamt of being disabled. Come on a journey with me. It’s Christmas Eve, you’re at the mall, you’re driving around in circles
looking for parking, and what do you see? Sixteen empty handicapped spaces. (Laughter) And you’re like, “God,
can’t I just be a little disabled?” (Laughter) Also, I’ve got to tell you, I’ve got 99 problems,
and palsy is just one. (Laughter) If there was an Oppression Olympics, I would win the gold medal. I’m Palestinian, Muslim, I’m female, I’m disabled, and I live in New Jersey. (Laughter) (Applause) If you don’t feel better
about yourself, maybe you should. (Laughter) Cliffside Park, New Jersey is my hometown. I have always loved the fact that my hood and my affliction
share the same initials. I also love the fact that if I wanted to walk
from my house to New York City, I could. A lot of people with CP don’t walk, but my parents didn’t believe in “can’t.” My father’s mantra was, “You can do it, yes you can can.” (Laughter) So, if my three older sisters
were mopping, I was mopping. If my three older sisters
went to public school, my parents would sue the school system and guarantee that I went too, and if we didn’t all get A’s, we all got my mother’s slipper. (Laughter) My father taught me how to walk
when I was five years old by placing my heels on his feet and just walking. Another tactic that he used is he would dangle
a dollar bill in front of me and have me chase it. (Laughter) My inner stripper was very strong. (Laughter) Yeah. No, by the first day of kindergarten, I was walking like a champ who had been punched one too many times. (Laughter) Growing up, there were
only six Arabs in my town, and they were all my family. (Laughter) Now there are 20 Arabs in town, and they are still all my family. (Laughter) I don’t think anyone
even noticed we weren’t Italian. (Laughter) (Applause) This was before 9/11 and before politicians
thought it was appropriate to use “I hate Muslims”
as a campaign slogan. The people that I grew up with
had no problem with my faith. They did, however, seem very concerned that I would starve
to death during Ramadan. I would explain to them
that I have enough fat to live off of for three whole months, so fasting from sunrise
to sunset is a piece of cake. (Laughter) I have tap-danced on Broadway. Yeah, on Broadway. It’s crazy. (Applause) My parents couldn’t
afford physical therapy, so they sent me to dancing school. I learned how to dance in heels, which means I can walk in heels. And I’m from Jersey, and we are really concerned
with being chic, so if my friends wore heels, so did I. And when my friends went
and spent their summer vacations on the Jersey Shore, I did not. I spent my summers in a war zone, because my parents were afraid that if we didn’t go back to Palestine
every single summer, we’d grow up to be Madonna. (Laughter) Summer vacations often consisted
of my father trying to heal me, so I drank deer’s milk, I had hot cups on my back, I was dunked in the Dead Sea, and I remember the water burning my eyes and thinking, “It’s working!
It’s working!” (Laughter) But one miracle cure we did find was yoga. I have to tell you, it’s very boring, but before I did yoga, I was a stand-up comedian
who can’t stand up. And now I can stand on my head. My parents reinforced this notion that I could do anything, that no dream was impossible, and my dream was to be on the daytime soap opera
“General Hospital.” (Laughter) I went to college
during affirmative action and got a sweet scholarship to ASU, Arizona State University, because I fit every single quota. (Laughter) I was like the pet lemur
of the theater department. Everybody loved me. I did all the less-than-intelligent
kids’ homework, I got A’s in all of my classes, A’s in all of their classes. (Laughter) Every time I did a scene
from “The Glass Menagerie,” my professors would weep. But I never got cast. Finally, my senior year, ASU decided to do a show called
“They Dance Real Slow in Jackson.” It’s a play about a girl with CP. I was a girl with CP. So I start shouting from the rooftops, “I’m finally going to get a part! I have cerebral palsy! Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, I’m free at last!” I didn’t get the part. (Laughter) Sherry Brown got the part. I went racing to the head
of the theater department crying hysterically,
like someone shot my cat, to ask her why, and she said it was because
they didn’t think I could do the stunts. I said, “Excuse me,
if I can’t do the stunts, neither can the character.” (Laughter) (Applause) This was a part
that I was literally born to play they gave it to a non-palsy actress. College was imitating life. Hollywood has a sordid history of casting able-bodied actors
to play disabled onscreen. Upon graduating, I moved back home, and my first acting gig
was as an extra on a daytime soap opera. My dream was coming true. And I knew that I would be promoted from “Diner Diner”
to “Wacky Best Friend” in no time. (Laughter) But instead, I remained
a glorified piece of furniture that you could only recognize
from the back of my head, and it became clear to me that casting directors didn’t hire fluffy,
ethnic, disabled actors. They only hired perfect people. But there were exceptions to the rule. I grew up watching Whoopi Goldberg, Roseanne Barr, Ellen, and all of these women
had one thing in common: they were comedians. So I became a comic. (Laughter) (Applause) My first gig was driving famous comics from New York City to shows in New Jersey, and I’ll never forget the face
of the first comic I ever drove when he realized that he was speeding
down the New Jersey Turnpike with a chick with CP driving him. (Laughter) I’ve performed in clubs all over America, and I’ve also performed
in Arabic in the Middle East, uncensored and uncovered. (Laughter) Some people say I’m the first
stand-up comic in the Arab world. I never like to claim first, but I do know that they never heard that nasty little rumor
that women aren’t funny, and they find us hysterical. (Laughter) In 2003, my brother
from another mother and father Dean Obeidallah and I started the New York Arab-American
Comedy Festival, now in its 10th year. Our goal was to change the negative image
of Arab-Americans in media, while also reminding casting directors that South Asian and Arab
are not synonymous. (Laughter) Mainstreaming Arabs was much, much easier than conquering the challenge
against the stigma against disability. My big break came in 2010. I was invited to be a guest
on the cable news show “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.” I walked in looking
like I was going to the prom, and they shuffle me into a studio and seat me on a spinning, rolling chair. (Laughter) So I looked at the stage manager and I’m like, “Excuse me,
can I have another chair?” And she looked at me and she went, “Five, four, three, two …” And we were live, right? So I had to grip onto the anchor’s desk so that I wouldn’t roll off
the screen during the segment, and when the interview
was over, I was livid. I had finally gotten
my chance and I blew it, and I knew I would never get invited back. But not only did Mr. Olbermann
invite me back, he made me a full-time contributor, and he taped down my chair. (Laughter) (Applause) One fun fact I learned while on the air
with Keith Olbermann was that humans
on the Internet are scumbags. (Laughter) People say children are cruel, but I was never made fun of
as a child or an adult. Suddenly, my disability
on the world wide web is fair game. I would look at clips online
and see comments like, “Yo, why’s she tweakin’?” “Yo, is she retarded?” And my favorite,
“Poor Gumby-mouth terrorist. What does she suffer from? We should really pray for her.” One commenter even suggested
that I add my disability to my credits: screenwriter, comedian, palsy. Disability is as visual as race. If a wheelchair user can’t play Beyoncé, then Beyoncé can’t play a wheelchair user. The disabled are the largest — Yeah, clap for that, man. Come on. (Applause) People with disabilities
are the largest minority in the world, and we are the most underrepresented
in entertainment. The doctors said that I wouldn’t walk, but I am here in front of you. However, if I grew up with social media, I don’t think I would be. I hope that together, we can create more positive images of disability in the media
and in everyday life. Perhaps if there were
more positive images, it would foster less hate on the Internet. Or maybe not. Maybe it still takes a village
to teach our children well. My crooked journey has taken me
to some very spectacular places. I got to walk the red carpet flanked by soap diva Susan Lucci and the iconic Loreen Arbus. I got to act in a movie with Adam Sandler and work with my idol,
the amazing Dave Matthews. I toured the world as a headliner
on Arabs Gone Wild. I was a delegate representing
the great state of New Jersey at the 2008 DNC. And I founded Maysoon’s Kids, a charity that hopes
to give Palestinian refugee children a sliver of the chance my parents gave me. But the one moment
that stands out the most was when I got — before this moment — (Laughter) (Applause) But the one moment
that stands out the most was when I got to perform for the man who floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee, has Parkinson’s and shakes just like me, Muhammad Ali. (Applause) (Applause ends) It was the only time
that my father ever saw me perform live, and I dedicate this talk to his memory. (Arabic) Allah yerhamak yaba. (English) My name is Maysoon Zayid, and if I can can, you can can. (Cheering) (Applause)

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

100 thoughts on “I got 99 problems… palsy is just one | Maysoon Zayid

  1. ❤ She's so infectuous! I really don't understand why people who hold the gates for movies TV shows discriminate. The talent is there! So visible in the first 5seconds you can see it. Talent always speaks louder I really don't understand why people get in the way

  2. OMG Maysoon Zayid
    You are absolutely fabulous. I am so proud of your family an of you . You have all done so great. I'm w/ you more than 100%
    Your beauty (inner
    an outer) &, your incredible strength
    of self is beyond moving an I'm certain the effect you & every thing that you do will be a definite help to start that needed
    (by far way over due) change that this world mist have.
    I seriously thank you for "standing up" I guess you can say.
    To both make people smile/ laugh (cause we all need a bit more of that these days) an to make people aware an to see what is fact an is directly in front of everyone yet people seem mindless an oblivious. Thanks for stepping up , ,, to wake people up. .
    As I said before I it
    is long over due.

    So any thoughts of say, running for president ?
    We could most definitely use a woman like yourself
    one highly based in reality in that position..

    Just saying,
    Id love to be voting
    one day for you .
    Cause that would be an excellent platform for serious awareness of fact an change..

    Much love in every thing you choose to do beautiful. ❣️💃😎

  3. Maysoon Zayid is simply PERFECT, made me laugh a lot talking about a delicate subject. Seeing her life story and how she overcame the barriers of prejudice is very inspiring.

  4. This woman is extremely inspirational and she is extremely talented. Bless her parents for supporting her to do anything she can.❤❤❤❤ The world needs love and not social media trolls. If you don't have something to say that comes from a place of love and support for people who have disabilities don't say ANYTHING!

  5. I think I already watched somewhere somebody being temporarily healed from shaking problems with a dose of THC (Cannabis), not smoked I guess – eaten, in tablets.

  6. God make them specially abled so that they inspire perfectly abled people like us, that's irony. Such a beauty!.

  7. The best thing about this video is being able to reflect on serious and complicated topics in our society while laughing. Humor is, of course, the best thing about this lecture, and from it we can see how absurd the things that have happened in this woman's life were. The part that catch me most is the moment she loses the role of a character with cerebral palsy to another actress without cerebral palsy. This demonstrates how the film industry is still exclusionary and how it only invests in inclusion stories without really including.

  8. Omg, I really fucking liked this video. The way she captures listeners talking about race, exclusion, xenophobia, gender, inclusion, opportunity and representativeness is amazing and funny! You are a brilliant woman! Her trajectory itself was my favorite part of the video. I hope people will see and reflect on what she said.
    Note: Your parents are amazing too. I kept the phrase in my mind!

  9. I don't usually comment…but WOW. What an amazing gorgeous strong lady! Smiled through the entire video. <3

  10. That was truly beutiful to watch and hear! Such a gorgeous woman inside and out. Palsy does not define her AT All! Go girl

  11. My sister is specially abled by cp too …She is also specially abled by this confidence like you wonderwoman..she is also specially abled of making anybody have a smile in their face …she is specially abled of being the reminder,dictionary of all important dates ,programs ,xyz any damn thing .. She is 29 ..she had been improved a lot in her cp case as compared to she was in childhood .Anyone reading this comment and know the best medical institute in India where there have been a great success and treating cp would be really helpful or even a life changing moment for us for her I must say . Thank you . Carpe diem.😍

  12. My son has a rare form of C.P. Scizencephaly. He is an incredible young man of 27 He has incredible sense of humor and is the most polite,loving man. The only bad part is watching what he goes through the seizures and rude ignorant treatment he gets from 5% of the population. The other 95% do or want to do the right thing.Its Amazing.

  13. She is a sympathy prop for the Democrats and CNN in their continued assault on our great Presidents.

    There, I said it…..

  14. Maysoon seems to have an amazing insight into the human condition, her own condition of palsy is relegated to 1% of her encumbrances. I think that is her most insightful point. We are (or can be) limited by others, and by circumstances, but most of all we are often limited by ourselves.

    Maysoon is admirable in her approach and her family, in their perseverance (even in some of their flawed enterprises on occasion) are equally admirable.

    But I do not wish to be too preachy here. Not all are blessed with a supportive family. Not all have the advantage of such an innately positive attitude. Such are often described as "qualities", but too my mind whilst that is true, they are fortunate atrributes. Like being, naturally physically strong, or having a constitution that is (relatively) impervious to disease. The debilitative effects of mental health issues should never be forgotten and, of course, for everyone who receives treatment, several more may be in need but unable to access the care that they require by their very condition.

    The phrase "we all have our crosses to bear", (despite my own lack of any faith) does nevertheless seem apt. Nor, to use another well worn phrase, do we often "walk in someone else's shoes".

    To conclude, Maysoon's is a funny and clever women, who happens to have palsy. A condition that I did not properly understand ( and still don't) but at least now I do know that I didn't understand it. So I have been taught a lesson …

    This old dog needs to learn a new trick. Perhaps we all should.

  15. so inspirational.. i am sitting here crying having every ability god could give a person .. hats off to you girl.. Hats off.

  16. I wish people would take note of who you are & where you're from because it ain't Israel since the Balfour Act entitled the Rothschild family could move right in raise their bank emblem as the countries flag calling it Israel

  17. The thing is you are very attractive, intelligent and articulate not to mention funny and courageous. Most people don't have these privileges. The numbers only get worse for most disabled people; unfortunately. Therefore I am not sure if you are a typical representation for disabled people in entertainment industry. In fact, I don't think of you as disabled. At all.

  18. She's beautiful, glad she's using comedy to help deal with her pain.
    I wish more people would respect people with disabilities, it's not they're fault that they're disabled.

  19. I have cerebral palsy and in my case I had a brain hemorrhage before my birth and as my mom tells me, the doctors don't know why I had the brain hemorrhage before my birth, and that I also had hydrocephalus. I think it would be very cool to meet this woman in person, but I live in Phoenix, Arizona. 😂

  20. You are great inspiring Maisoon! We are so proud of you and please keep on to inspire this world to change its mindset about disability. People do not choose how they born, but they can choose what to be in future, and for you, you have chosen to be an iconic character this world! May Allah bless you!

  21. I love your spirit. God bless you. Keep kicking down doors and proving people wrong. Much love to you. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  22. Funny personality and enjoyable. Jesus is King and we are Christian. Yoga isn’t good, its demonic. Look into it. When you meditate, you are to meditate only in Jesus, the Father in Heaven, and the Holy Spirit.

  23. As of August 18th, 2019, I can not even imagine who the 902 people are that would dislike this video.  I could make some general assumptions, but I won't.  All I will say is this made me laugh harder, and think harder, than I have in a good long while.  Maysoon Zayid is an inspiration to us all, and if you have a problem with anything she said here you are simply a sad human.

  24. Unpredictable courage she has !
    Salute to her that she survived palsy and hadn't despair.
    May ALLAH (SWT) fulfil all of her dreams. Ameen
    Lots Of Love from PAKISTAN.
    And her sense of humour Fab!

  25. You are so adorable and amazingly inspiring, Maysoon. I wish you all the best and thank you so much for such a great talk 🙂

  26. She might have Palsy but she's so ON and full of life. Its like the palsy is trying real hard to keep her down but she like "oh, yeah, try me!" Love her

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *