My short bio:

My name is Ally Bruener and I'm a 24 year old stand-up comedian with Muscular Dystrophy. I've been fully wheelchair bound since the age of 7, which jump-started my love for public speaking with various charity events. I started comedy after dropping out of college in 2010 and have been consistently performing around the Midwest since. I use my comedy as an attempt to open the doors for conversations about things that are often considered taboo and to (hopefully) break down the stereotypes about people with disabilities. Also, I just love making stranger laugh, regardless of subject matter. I'm no stranger to controversy, so... Ask me anything!

My Proof: Proof will be on both twitter and my facebook page:

I'll start answering question around 1:30pm EST.

P.S. If I had a dollar for every time someone thinks they're clever by saying, "Stand up comedy? Don't you mean sit down comedy?" then I'd actually be able to make a living doing comedy.

Update: I'm headed to bed, but if y'all have more questions, I'll be back tomorrow! Also, thanks to everyone for all the kind words!

Update #2: Good morning!

Comments: 202 • Responses: 84  • Date: 

MattHeavi23 karma

I'm assuming you enjoy an adult beverage from time to time, especially after a set or hanging out with friends. Every worry about getting a DUI in your chair?

brueapilsner29 karma

I haven't really drank much at all since college. But it is entirely possible to get a DUI in a wheelchair in some states. I just always wonder how the hell they would transport me to jail. Maybe put my chair in manual and tow me behind?

NotMathMan8217 karma

Normally they impound the vehicle. Maybe you would get an outdoor cell.

brueapilsner27 karma

Or they might put a boot on my wheel..

deadlyhausfrau4 karma

If you were arrested, would the cops just try to pick you up and put you in the car? How are people in wheelchairs arrested?

brueapilsner21 karma

I honestly have no clue. I wrote a paper on it and college and there are countless cases of people with disabilities being injured during arrest. I'm sure I'll find out eventually..

choirsofcacophony18 karma


brueapilsner24 karma

Lovely to meet you, dear! The biggest challenge has been the physical barriers. Very few comedy venues are wheelchair friendly, especially with the stage. Most stages are anywhere from 2-4 feet high and my portable ramp won't work for many. Most places are willing to work with me by letting me use the door guys to lift me on stage, but it takes four big guys to lift my 400 pound throne.

The only thing I have never really joked about is death. Not saying I never will, but I haven't found an instance where I can put the humor in it.

And yes, I hate political correctness. I had someone tell me, "You should call yourself 'differently abled' or 'diff-abled' for short" Great.. so now I sound like I have a lisp, too!

choirsofcacophony9 karma


brueapilsner11 karma

When I was brand new and still trying to get my feet wet, I hadn't thought of solutions to some of the accessibility issues, so some bookers just weren't sure how to work with me. But I haven't had anyone blatantly refuse to try to make accommodations.

I did go to college, but I dropped out after about three years. I am glad I went. It was my first real experience of living on my own away from family. There were some tough times, but overall an amazing experience.

become_taintless16 karma

How often do people drop the obvious joke about you being a stand-up in a wheelchair, as if you've never heard it or thought of it before?

(My last name lends itself to the same kind of tired joke.)

brueapilsner23 karma

Always. Everyone thinks it's so clever. I might have agreed when I was twelve. If you look at anything I've posted in r/standupshots, you'll see several "I thought this was STAND UP shots, not SIT DOWN shots." Could be worse, I guess.

siegel_caww15 karma

I have done a couple of stand-up acts myself at a local comedy club (I'm in NJ) and there is a blind dude with a cane who goes on occasionally. His opening lines both times I have seen him is "Hi, my name is Zeke. As you can see, I can't." The audiences always really love that.

Anyway, would you say that being a disable comedian somehow makes the audience react differently to your act (other than what I assume is an initial look of surprise)?

brueapilsner13 karma

They tend to except one of two extremes. Either sweet and innocent or completely vulgar. I'm usually somewhere in the middle, and it takes them a minute to adjust their expectations. But I like to think they tend to be pleasantly surprised.

SrsSteel-13 karma

Women comedians tend to only talk about penis and vaginas and how their vaginas are smelly and they are so horny all the time and make terrible fart jokes and sex jokes for their entire set. Do other comedians not tell them that this stuff isn't funny?

brueapilsner9 karma

I think everyone wants to be "edgy". People tell them, but they say "You just don't get my angle" or some bullshit. But I have a poop joke, so I've got know room to talk.

deadlyhausfrau10 karma

I just found a joke of yours (about being a stripper) and sort of spit-took all over my monitor. Do you tour, or are you mostly found online?

brueapilsner9 karma

I'm currently mainly doing show around Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. But I hope to travel more in the near-future.

Fruitfi3 karma

What areas of Indiana? It's lonely and boring here.

brueapilsner8 karma

I've done Indy and Bloomington. Might be doing Muncie soon.

MetalFemur2 karma

where in ohio

brueapilsner4 karma

Cincinnati and Dayton, mostly.

zman09002 karma

Coming to Columbus any time? If so you should post over in /r/Columbus

brueapilsner3 karma

I don't currently have anything booked, but I'm looking into different venues. :)

murf431431 karma

Holy shit, I just commented about the Detroit one, but I am in Dayton for a month! Anything planned?

  • damn, just read a comment one below this stating no shows planned while I'm here.

brueapilsner2 karma

Cincinnati isn't far to travel to ;)

murf431431 karma

Well when?!?

brueapilsner4 karma

Tomorrow! The finals of the Funniest Person in Cincinnati contest!

woodyscissors1 karma

Where in Ohio? I would love to Come to a show

brueapilsner2 karma

Mostly Cincinnati and Dayton, but I'm hoping to expand to Columbus and Cleveland within a few months.

nineteen_eightyfour10 karma

Hi ally it's Jenna! Just supporting you!!! Go ally!!!

brueapilsner8 karma

Thanks, dear!

-alexcellent7 karma

Hi Ally! I'm a friend of T-Jax's! I saw you a couple of times. Once at wicks where everyone was too loud and some lame ass won the contest.

Rock on! Or... roll... on...

brueapilsner5 karma

Thanks, darlin'! That was my absolute worst show ever.. Oh well. Thanks for your kind words!

bravaragazza9 karma

How do you feel about people who ask you insensitive stuff about, like, going to the bathroom and sex and stuff?

brueapilsner19 karma

I'm perfectly okay with it. I know people are just curious and rarely have any malicious intentions in their questions. I'll answer most anything.

boxofkangaroos9 karma

What is your best joke?

brueapilsner44 karma

This one gets an applause break at nearly every show:

DanDierdorf5 karma

now that's what I came here for!

brueapilsner5 karma

Glad you enjoyed it!

jonthemaud7 karma

In phoenix there is a comedian with a similar disability who goes by the name 'shortbus' do you know/have you done any shows with him?

brueapilsner12 karma

I haven't. But I'll check him out. Thanks! :)

iamnickdolan5 karma

What was your major before dropping out? Do you have any regrets? What is life on the road like as a stand-up and what type of person would you recommend it for? Thanks for doing this!

brueapilsner9 karma

My major was Political Science with the intention of going to law school after graduation. I realized pretty quickly that being a lawyer wouldn't make me truly happy and I had no other interest in anything political. I have no regrets about that.

I haven't been able to really spend as much time on the road as I would like. Unfortunately, I can't travel alone and I don't yet make enough money in order to hire someone to join me. So when I do travel, my dad has to tag along, which doesn't mesh well with his actual joke. And my van gets horrible gas mileage. But I feel like it's something I need to do more of to "earn my stripes".

iamnickdolan4 karma

Yeah I think "funny lawyer" is an oxymoron most of the time. Thanks for answering and good luck in your career and life.

brueapilsner3 karma

My pleasure! And thanks for your questions!

vcna5 karma

Hey! You are really funny... So I hope that makes you smile cause you make me smile!

brueapilsner7 karma

Aww.. Thanks, darlin'! Big smiles!

aboyd6565 karma


brueapilsner17 karma

Hack? ;)

cptcliche5 karma

What's a joke of yours that you personally enjoy but doesn't seem to do as well on stage? And conversely, what's a joke that you don't find as funny that seems to do very well on stage?

brueapilsner9 karma

I use to do an abortion joke that was just really crude. I loved it because it was a true story. Audiences were repulsed.

All my jokes were funny to me at one point. But I grow bored with them quickly and forget why I found them funny.

Swimswimswim994 karma

What was the joke?

brueapilsner13 karma

The crude part is about how a guy once asked me if I would ever consider eating my own aborted fetus. My response was, "Hell no! It'd be way too salty."

One_More_Link4 karma

As someone who would love to do stand-up comedy for fun, I have a couple questions..

  • Where do you get the inspiration for your jokes?

  • Do you improvise a lot while on stage? Or is it more planned out?

  • What do you do if a crowd doesn't laugh when you expect them to?

Thanks for doing this!

brueapilsner9 karma

Most of my jokes are based on random things that have happened or conversations with friends along the lines of "Wouldn't it be crazy if this happened?" And I have a weird family.. that definitely helps.

I don't improvise all that much, unless it's a really laid back show. If it isn't an open mic, I feel like I am still too unknown to risk it affecting the rest of the show. And if it is an open mic, I'm usually focused on working out new ideas.. so I guess there might be a bit of improv there, especially if its just throwing out a new tag line I came up with while on stage.

Crowds can be so unpredictable. But it isn't that big of an issue. It might throw off your rhythm, but just keep going once the laughter starts to die. Later, go back and try to figure out why they were laughing when they normally wouldn't and you might come out of it with a new laugh line.

deadlyhausfrau1 karma

How do you actually get gigs? Do you just do a few sets locally, then send out queries? Do out of town places pay for lodging?

Also, how often do you change your bits? Do you pretty much just tell a joke once and let it go, or have several bits you mix up?

brueapilsner2 karma

Usually by word-of-mouth. I mostly do show within the same region (about a 2 hour radius of Cincinnati). I'm hoping to expand more soon, and when I do, I'll use references from comics and bookers I've worked with before. Networking can be a comedian's greatest resource.

I tend to keep jokes for a long time, trying to evolve them into something better. Once I feel a joke is as good as it will get, I'll set it aside for showcases and competitions.

funnybillypro4 karma

Do you actually get good money from referring people to Diamond Candles?

brueapilsner6 karma

Hah.. $5 credit.. So bunch of free shit eventually. I thought I deleted all those tweets!

iwannaquitreddit4 karma

Do you think being disabled makes it easier to get attention as a comedian?

brueapilsner5 karma

It goes both ways.. Some people are completely dismissive, while it draws the attention of others. Just as some people are overly critical the moment I mention my disability in my act, others are too nice and refuse to give me the slightest bit of criticism.

thedude5024 karma

Cripple girls have the best weed. That blue wizard weed.

brueapilsner2 karma

Hah! I totally forgot about that. Good times.

thedude5021 karma

You know I <3 you.

brueapilsner1 karma

Damn right you do do!

Swimswimswim994 karma

Have you ever been in a romantic relationship? Do you think that the American disabled and not-disabled communities have significantly different cultures?

brueapilsner7 karma

I have been in one serious relationship. That was back in college. I think it's harder for disabled people to date mainly because of all the misconceptions and the lack of people willing to put themselves out there in set the record straight. I don't see it as two different cultures, since in most cases, disabled people don't really sequester themselves. We're part of the regular culture, but only as much as the rest of the people are willing to embrace us. Does that make any sense?

Swimswimswim994 karma

Yeah, that definitely makes sense. Would you say that humor is a common way of dealing with the difficulties that come with being disabled? If not, what are some common ways that you see?

If you don't mind me asking, was the guy (or girl, I don't judge) disabled as well?

brueapilsner6 karma

I think it depends on the person. Generally, I feel comedy helps everyone through difficulties. When you're laughing, you aren't worrying. Some people use humor to come to terms about things, others use it as a shield. Personally, I genuinely find my life funny. I use humor to make others more comfortable. When you laugh, your guard is down. That's when people are most likely to see past the chair.

I've never really thought about how I deal with my disability, I've just done it. :/

I don't mind at all, dear. My ex is a guy and no, he isn't disabled.

LutzExpertTera4 karma

How do audiences generally react to your material? I know a lot of stand up comedians routinely deal with hecklers, but I can't imagine anyone would heckle you?

brueapilsner14 karma

Audiences are often a bit taken aback at first, but I make sure I'm quick to break the ice and let them know it's okay to laugh. But there are always people who have the mindset, "I can't laugh, she's in a wheelchair!" As if I didn't make a conscious decision to get on that stage and find the humor in my life.

I haven't had as many hecklers as most, but it has happened. I'll get the occasional person yell "You're going to hell!" or someone who gets mad at my use of the word "crippled".

LutzExpertTera2 karma

"You're going to hell!"

Seems like a bit of an overreaction if you ask me. How do you respond to these people?

brueapilsner9 karma

Depends on the manner in which they say it.. I usually just ignore them. Sometimes I'll make a comment about them joining me in hell. If I really wanna piss them off I'll say something like, "Hell? Sounds like a fairytale.. Oh, wait.."

boxjohnson4 karma

Who are other disabled stand-up comedians that you'd recommend?

brueapilsner3 karma

I don't really know all that many.. At least not on a comedic level. But the first one that comes to mind would be Nina G.

boxjohnson1 karma

Ouch. I won't tell Josh Blue.

brueapilsner2 karma

He seemed too obivious!

Ackvan3 karma


brueapilsner4 karma

I hope to travel more once I can afford a van that gets more than 9mpg. And TN will probably be the next area I try to tackle.

nule3 karma

Are you going to be coming up to the Cleveland area any time soon? I've followed you on twitter and FB since the first time one of your photos showed up on imgur. I would recommend anybody browsing this AMA consider doing so.

brueapilsner3 karma

That's one of the next cities I'm hoping to tackle. Thanks for your support!

pete17293 karma

Really, thanks for putting it all out there. Fuck hiding.

Do use only your own material or have you ever gotten writers in on the gig?

brueapilsner7 karma

Aside from tossing ideas around with friends, I write everything myself. The worst label you can get in comedy is a joke thief, so I don't really trust having other people write for me. But there will be an occasion where after a set, a fellow comic will come up to me and suggest a new tag line, but that's about the extent of it.

Carnephex3 karma

So what kind of computer setup are you using?

Voice control, typing, one handing it?

brueapilsner13 karma

Just a regular laptop. My fingers are still fairly nimble.

Carnephex2 karma

nimble fingers are a good thing!

brueapilsner11 karma

I make good use of them.

mfzeeps3 karma

Hello Ally! I'm watching your set on youtube, "Ally Bruener comedy set," and you had me dying! I'm a 23 year old comedian as well, and I love your timing and your material is super original. I loved the "I'm a normal 22 year old girl except I haven't had an abortion." also, "if you woo depression you're not depressed."

Do you think because of your disability you're able to talk about riskier subjects?

Are venues ever reluctant to book you?

Do you ever think there will be a time in your comedy where you don't address being in a chair? As a comic you're supposed to address the elephant in the room, but have you ever thought about that?


brueapilsner6 karma

Thanks, dear! So glad you're enjoying it. I think my disability definitely lets me get away with some more offensive stuff, probably just because so few people expect to hear those things out of my mouth.

I have been very lucky when it comes to getting booked, especially on a local level. The club I started at has an owner and management who are rather fond of me. I've gotten quite a few opportunities there that I probably didn't deserve. Beyond that, I think venues just don't know what to do with me because of the lack of accessibility of most clubs. So they just aren't quite sure how things will work. Something as simple as me not being able to put the mic back in the stand tends to throw people off. I just make it appoint to address the issues before they're seen as an actual issue and not something with a super simple solution.

I think I will always have to address it, even if it's just one joke to clear the air. But I do want to be much less dependent on those jokes. I'm currently trying to focus on writing more clean material so I'll be more marketable. Once I get better at that, I'm going to set my attention on putting together a set without disability jokes (aside from one to kill the elephant). So, it'll happen. I've just got a lot of growing left to do. :)

squigglemuffin3 karma

Do you find people treat you differently because of your disability when performing? If so how do you handle that? How do you view yourself in comparison to able bodied performers?

brueapilsner9 karma

They take a while to warm up to me, I think. When I get on stage, I look very sweet and innocent, often wearing a headband and cardigan. They expect me to tell knock, knock jokes about puppies and unicorns. So when my first joke drops the f-bomb or mentions sex, it takes them a minute to adjust their expectations.

One major difference I see between me and able-bodied performers is that I get a lot of support all across the board from other performers. I don't know if it's because of my disability or just because I am fairly likable, but it seems like there are a lot of comics and bookers that want to see me succeed.

travisccook3 karma

I think your officially the first one from our Furby Family to be AMA famous! First the front page, then an AMA, THEN THE WORLD!

Much love :).

brueapilsner2 karma

Travis!!! Ferocious Furbies 4 lyfe!

Gravy-Leg__2 karma

What's the worst you have ever bombed?

brueapilsner5 karma

About 9 months into comedy, I was in a contest at a pizza parlor/bar. It was the final round of the competition and nerves got the best of me. I bombed and bombed hard.

balloflovemeat2 karma

In your opinion, who has the funniest set I could see online right now?

brueapilsner3 karma

Oh gosh.. That's tough. I don't really watch all that much online. But I would recommend You can sort it by club and I highly recommend most of the clips you can find from Go Bananas. Cincinnati has some amazing local talent.

zombiecheesus2 karma

I laughed.

brueapilsner1 karma

I'm glad! :)

Duke_of_Chutney2 karma

Just looked up your comedy... Hilarious.

What's the most weird/akward thing anybody's ever said to you, and how did you respond?

brueapilsner2 karma

One of the regulars at a local club approached me after a show and said, "I think it's great you joke about sex like you actually know what you're talking about." So next time she was at a show, I told people about a lady saying that and ended the story with, "So I slept with her husband." She gave her husband the dirtiest look. It was priceless.

going4italltoday2 karma

Just dropping in to say keep doing what you're doing :) I'm a big 1st Amendment supporter.

My friends, J & D, defended you guys for the BS censorship the city was trying to pull. I've got a bunch of attorney friends/acquaintances, and NONE of them like Joe Deters.

Glad you guys won. Keep it up! :)

brueapilsner1 karma

Thanks, dear! D is actually my cousin, so I knew we were in good hands. I appreciate your support!

Frajer2 karma

Did Josh Blue being on Last Comic Standing change things for disabled comics?

brueapilsner8 karma

I'm not really sure what it was like before, since I'm only a few years in. But I think he made disabled comedians more socially acceptable in the eyes of the audience. That probably gave a lot of us a bit of encouragement.

KeepOnWorking2 karma


brueapilsner1 karma

Just try it. What's the worst that could happen? If nothing else, it's something easy to cross off your bucket list.

1minuteman2 karma

stand up comedy is said to be one of the toughest professions to make a career out of. is it wheelie as hard as they say?....

brueapilsner5 karma

I see what you did there.. ;)

ZenoOfCitiumStoa2 karma

Do you have a youtube link so we can see some of your work?

(If it's on your twitter or facebook I apologize for my laziness.)

Edit: strangest downvotes ever

brueapilsner3 karma

I really need to update my channel. All the videos are at least a year old. I'll try to upload some more clips either tonight or tomorrow.

cbhaga012 karma

I'm just gonna leave this here.

brueapilsner1 karma

THE PURPLE PROP! I'm surprised you didn't post the video..

cbhaga012 karma

It's already on your YouTube page.

EDIT: Here.

brueapilsner2 karma

Valid point.

cbhaga013 karma

I'll show you my valid point.

brueapilsner5 karma

Oh, I've seen it.. It wasn't really all that "valid"...

cbhaga012 karma

brueapilsner2 karma

Awwz.. I kid. You're as valid as they come.

littleeasye1 karma

This sounds very similar to my cousins situation, he also has MD, is from Indiana, and enjoys doing "Stand up" comedy! (Also is a very talented graphics designer) You guys should meet!

brueapilsner1 karma

What's his name? We may have already met.

anotherguy21 karma


fuck I hope Cincy police don't arrest me...

brueapilsner2 karma

After the trial, one of the officers admitted that he is now a fan. I think we're in the clear.

THECapedCaper1 karma

I see you in the local news every now and then in the Cincinnati area, and the stuff I've seen online is just awesome. Are you playing any shows in the future?

brueapilsner2 karma

I'm in the finals of the Funniest Person in Cincinnati contest tomorrow! :)

THECapedCaper1 karma

Where and when's it at? I might sucker my girlfriend into going!

brueapilsner3 karma

It's at Go Bananas, but the showroom is sold out. But there will be a live feed at McLevy's, the bar next door. And you can vote for the winners from there, too. And it's free. And that's where all the comics will be hanging out when not on stage. It'll be a great time!

DerpingTheHerp1 karma

Why does this AMA not say precisely what your Twitter handle is?

"I am the coolest crip bitch on this side of the 'sippi. AMA"

brueapilsner3 karma

Eh.. figured that would sound a bit cocky.. even though it's true.


Can you give a few examples of jokes you have surrounding people with disabilities? In my head as a person in the crowd I can only really see myself feeling very awkward while laughing at those types of jokes. Thanks!

brueapilsner1 karma

BrewPounder1 karma

Oh snap, I've seen you're OKcupid profile. How's it going, fellow Cincinnatian? Small world.

brueapilsner2 karma

It's going pretty well. It might be better if I didn't need an okcupid profile, though. ;)

BrewPounder1 karma

Right on. Whereabouts did you start out around here? I myself did an open mic night at Baba Budans once.

brueapilsner2 karma

I started in Louisville at Comedy Caravan, but moved back to Cincy not too long ago. I mostly just do Go Bananas and some random bar show. Baba Budans is a pretty cool place.

andashd1 karma

What is the best dinosaur?

brueapilsner2 karma

Any except the T-rex. I hate the T-rex!

anotherguy21 karma

Forest does not approve

brueapilsner2 karma

I couldn't care less. :)

anotherguy22 karma

o.O You said "couldn't" instead of "could"

I think you may be a fucking genius. That might be one of my pet peeves.. maybe.

brueapilsner1 karma

It happens to be one of my pet peeves, as well. :)

stegesaurus1 karma

Did your earlier participation on the MDA Telethon with Jerry Lewis inspire you to become a comedian?

brueapilsner3 karma

Not necessarily to become a comedian, but that's where I got my start in public speaking. I remember being about 9 years old giving a speech at a black tie event to about 500 adults and I felt at home. I like giving people a reason to listen to me.

bitzap1 karma

Thank you so much for this AMA. I have Cerebral Palsy and am in a chair as well. Comedy is a passion of mine - I love making people smile. I'm not amazing yet, but I'm dreaming big and plan to achieve everything I want to do in life. Thank you so much for this AMA, it really gave me a boost of confidence to continue doing persuing this. How did you get your start in comedy?

edit: wordfix

brueapilsner1 karma

I started by taking a class at a local club. I never intended to pursue it beyond the graduation show, but I was hooked. Comedy classes get a lot of crap, but it gave me encouragement I needed to get on stage for the first time. Plus, to this day, my instructors and classmates are some of my biggest supporters.

The_Shape_Shifter1 karma

Do you see the irony in being a disabled stand-up comedian?

brueapilsner2 karma

Read the PS portion of the description, dear. ;)

Dangle_Snipe1 karma

Did you go to a disabled school as a kid? Were the kids chill there?

brueapilsner1 karma

Nope. I went to a regular school.

[deleted]0 karma


brueapilsner1 karma

Again, read the PS of the description, dear.

niggertosis0 karma

I don't care about comedy just tell me this... can you or can you not do wheelies in your wheelchair?

brueapilsner1 karma

Partially.. But I have a power wheelchair, so that makes it a bit difficult.

connor9943-2 karma

Technically, aren't you a sit down comedian?

brueapilsner1 karma

Read the PS portion of the description, dear. ;)

kenks88-2 karma

Wow, what a great audience

brueapilsner7 karma

*Terrific audience. At least get the quote right, dear.

kenks880 karma

Pretty sure he says both.

brueapilsner4 karma

My bad.

KeepPushinIt-2 karma

How do you stand up?

brueapilsner1 karma

Microphones are magical.

bluescholar90-2 karma

stand up. sorry im going to hell.

brueapilsner1 karma

Read the PS of my description. ;)

bluescholar901 karma

Sorry it was jist the first thing i thought of when i read the title.

brueapilsner1 karma

Haha.. I'm use to it. ;)

Cookeys-6 karma

Brings a whole new meaning to stand-up comedian doesn't it?

brueapilsner8 karma

See last line of description. ;)