Steve Way is a comedian and actor with Muscular Dystrophy. We discuss his awesome web series Uplifting Dystrophy, disability representation in media, the inaccessibility of NYC, and more. You can visit Steve’s website at thesteveway.com!
As always, thanks to my friend E, the transcript is available below and the video is closed captioned.
Over the Geeky Gimp background of interconnected shapes, text: THE GEEKY GIMP PRESENTS…
A PODCAST WITH STEVE WAY
Visit Steve at www.thesteveway.com
ERIN: Hi everyone. Welcome to another podcast of the geeky gimp. Today I’m interviewing or podcasting with Steve Way. Hi Steve, can you say hello.
ERIN: How are you doing today?
STEVE: I’m great. how are you?
ERIN: I’m pretty good. Can you–so do you want to talk about your, uh, you have a video series, a web series.
ERIN: Can you tell us about that?
STEVE: Sure. So I have a web series called Uplifting Dystrophy. And it was created by myself and a good friend of mine, Jon Braylock. And we had an idea that we wanted to do something together for like four years.
STEVE: And we had the idea of writing a pilot, which we did, and right before we got ready to really film it, just our luck, our friend Ramy Youssef, who helped us out got a job out on Nickelodeon so he had to move to LA., and we…because of his contract, he couldn’t do anything else. So instead of scrapping the idea altogether, Jon and I said well why don’t we just do something together.
STEVE: So out of the pilot came the web series.
ERIN: Nice. So what is your topic on your web series?
STEVE: Well the point of the webseries or I should say the plot of the webseries is that Jon tries to take me to my first party in New York City. And obviously New York City isn’t really the most wheelchair-friendly area.
ERIN: No it isn’t, no.
STEVE: So you can imagine how each episode ends.
STEVE: It really focuses on our friendship, and how my disability gets in the way of it.
STEVE: And how it kind of tests our relationship.
ERIN: Right. So I watched the first two episodes and I liked the episode in the church.
STEVE: That’s my favorite one.
ERIN: That, I’ve actually been in the same position. It’s very awkward. It’s like okay, I wanna get out of here now.
STEVE: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, pretty much every episode is taken from real life experience.
ERIN: Mmhmm. I totally get it cause like everything that happened to you has happened to me, so I liked it a lot. Um, so you said your favorite episode was the church one. Why is that, just because?
STEVE: Well it’s funny because Jon and our director, Kyle Kolich went scouting for churches and they picked that one. And when I got there um, I wasn’t really sure how to get in. There was steps in front and there were steps on the side. So you know, the whole cast and crew are there, it’s crazy, everyone’s getting everything set up, and I finally get Jon and Kyle together and I said hey, where do I go in? And they just looked at each other. And they were basically like, “Ohhhhh.”
ERIN: Oh my god.
STEVE: Right, and I’m like, “You’ve gotta be kidding me. You picked the only church that I can’t get in. So in the episode, you see that my character is very visibly upset with Jon, you know, for bringing me to this church party, but in reality I was pretty pissed at him in real life too.
STEVE: Um, so I just love that episode because it shows that our friendship, what we’re willing to do for each other no matter how much we don’t want to and that in the end I always have the upper hand.
ERIN: Yeah, yeah.
STEVE: Um, yeah, we spent a lot of time editing that episode.
STEVE: And that’s probably the only episode that has a scene after the credits.
ERIN: Oh, yeah? Cool.
STEVE: Yeah. I think that is probably my best episode in terms of acting. Especially the preacher, we got Ben Cohen, just outstanding in that role.
ERIN: Yeah, it was hard for me to tell that he was acting, cause he was just so spot on.
STEVE: Yeah, he was very good.
ERIN: So you also do, I first heard about you from your Vine videos, so how did you start doing that?
STEVE: Yeah, my friend Robbie, you know, who I’ve mentioned before, is pretty big on Vine, he has a pretty big following. And basically one day last December, he was like, you gotta get on Vine and do something. So I just put one up, and I’ve done a bunch after that. And then this past April I flew out to LA to visit him and see a taping of his new morning show, and while I was out there I met up with Rudy von Hersel who has a lot of the biggest followings on Vine, and he and I did one together.
ERIN: Oh awesome.
STEVE: Yeah, and I uploaded it, and he revined it, and it went viral.
STEVE: Yeah, it went for like three days. In one week I got like 60,000 followers.
ERIN: That’s really–
STEVE: It was insane. The Vine was everywhere, like Twitter, Tumblr. Like people I hadn’t seen in like years were coming up to me saying to me they saw it.
STEVE: I’ve been getting a lot more recognized since then, like I did a video with a friend this summer and when he put it up one of the YouTube comments was “Oh, that’s the guy from the vine.” That’s never happened before.
STEVE: So it’s starting.
ERIN: Yeah. That’s good. So, all right, so you do stand-up comedy, or sit-down comedy.
STEVE: A lot of people don’t get that joke.
ERIN: Yeah, well, you know.
STEVE: Which is unfortunate.
ERIN: Yeah it’s pretty funny. *laughter* So what’s that like? Where do you usually perform?
STEVE: Yeah, stand-up comedy’s awesome. I usually perform at the People’s Improv Theatre or The Pit over in New York City. Me and Jon co-host a show every month called The Lockdown. Jon’s been doing the show for like two years now. And I get off and on, but officially I’ve been cohost for six months now. And I’ve been doing standup for four years now.
ERIN: Yeah. What are the reactions that you get?
STEVE: Um, it’s weird. You know, if I do it in front of an audience who has no idea who I am, I definitely sense the hesitation from them in regards to like laughing. They’re tentative because they’re not really I guess they’re not really sure
ERIN: Right. Yeah.
STEVE: because a lot of my jokes are about me and me making fun of myself and my disability.
STEVE: So I can definitely feel they’re uncomfortable or unsure.
ERIN: They don’t know know if they should laugh or not.
STEVE: Yeah, and I don’t blame them for that. By the end they definitely get a feel for my sense of humor. It all works out in the end.
ERIN: So um, I want to talk about a broader topic of disability. You have Muscular Dystrophy?
ERIN: Yeah, me too. So what was it like growing up, and now that you’re an adult, you’re older now. how has it changed?
STEVE: I always consider myself lucky because my condition progressed pretty slowly. Um, so when something happened, like when I had a setback, I was given plenty of time to adapt until the next one happened. And that definitely was the case with my friends too where it wasn’t like so much was thrown at them all at once.
STEVE: You know, I guess everything that I’ve been through, all the illnesses, the surgeries, the hospital stays, I feel like I’m well equipped to really overcome any setback, you know I feel like I know enough now to play it smart and to know what to do should something happen.
ERIN: Right. Okay. So on my blog, and my podcast, I review video games, computer games, board games, and TV shows, and stuff, so are you into any of that stuff, or?
STEVE: I used to be into video games and stuff, I guess that school kind of got in the way. I’m really in front of my computer pretty much all the time, so I’m always like reading some Internet article or on some kind of like tech blog or TV review site. Yeah, right now I’m binge watching 24.
ERIN: Mmhmm, oh yeah.
STEVE: and I’m almost done, I started like in April. And I’m on, I’m like halfway through the latest mini-season.
ERIN: I um, I was watching, uh, my friend wanted me to watch The Walking Dead. So I binge watched all four seasons in like two weeks just so I could watch the season five premiere. And he was like, “I can’t believe you did that!” and I was like, “I had nothing else to do.”
STEVE: I actually did that with Breaking Bad.
STEVE: Last year. It was the last of college…
STEVE …and I had only one class.
ERIN: Oh yeah.
STEVE: It was like Mondays and Thursdays from 10 to 11:15
STEVE: …and just every day I just sat in front of my TV and watched Breaking Bad. And it really helped me prepare for shooting my web series.
STEVE: I had no formal acting training.
STEVE: And that show really helped me show character development,
ERIN: Uh huh.
STEVE: and to show how important emotion is
STEVE: and how much a character can change over time. And to me that show is a perfect example of that.
ERIN: Isn’t there a disabled character on that show?
STEVE: Yeah, yeah, the character who plays Walter’s son, RJ Mitte. I know he’s not, like in real life he’s not as disabled as he is on the show, but still to have an actually disabled character
STEVE: on a major TV show is something that you really don’t see too often.
ERIN: I never actually, I never watched that show.
STEVE: No, you should.
ERIN: So is it a good portrayal? Like I’ve never, I don’t know.
STEVE: Honestly, they don’t really address it.
ERIN: Oh it’s just like a non-issue?
STEVE: It’s just, it’s there. And I think that’s great because you don’t have to question it.
ERIN: Right. Yeah I like when shows do that, you know? Like they have a disabled character and it’s not really like, brought up.
STEVE: Yeah, it’s not really the point of the show.
ERIN: Actually I thought of another show. Did you ever watch ER?
STEVE: No, no, I never got into that. I’m more of a Grey’s Anatomy guy actually.
ERIN: Oh, okay. Cause on ER, one of the doctors had, I think, CP?
ERIN: I think, maybe, and they didn’t really address it, as far as I remember.
ERIN: What’s next? What are you gonna do now? After your show?
STEVE: Yeah, well, we’re hoping, me and Jon, we’re hoping to take our standup show to the next level.
STEVE: Just try to really promote it, really get it out there.
STEVE: Just to really boost our presence, you know, you know, in the New York comedy scene.
STEVE: I was hoping to get into TV now.
STEVE: Whether it be some kind of acting or reality, stuff like that.
ERIN: That’d be awesome, yeah.
STEVE: In the meantime something like keep doing the Vines.
STEVE: I’m hoping to get my website up and running by the end of the year.
STEVE: Hoping to do some kind of like Internet web show.
ERIN: Right. Cool.
ERIN: Were you ever into like Star Trek, Star Wars?
STEVE: Oh yeah I’m a big fan of both of them actually.
ERIN: You like Star Trek? Which do you like better? I know that’s the usual question
STEVE: Honestly, I like Star Trek better.
ERIN: Yeah, me too.
STEVE: Because I’m a big fan of the original series.
ERIN: Mmhmm, oh yeah.
STEVE: And that show, it was just, it was so groundbreaking when it came out.
STEVE: You know, there were so many historical elements and so many themes from society at the time you know that were thrown into the future.
STEVE: I mean to have the first interracial kiss
STEVE: on cable TV that’s huge.
ERIN: Yeah, it’s huge.
STEVE: You know, they had these topics about race and sexuality and gender that no other show was doing at the time.
ERIN: And they had a black woman on the bridge and a Japanese man, during like that heated time.
STEVE: Yeah, directly during the cold war.
ERIN: Right yeah, and it was really amazing.
ERIN: And I think that was one reason I just really connected to that show.
STEVE: Absolutely, absolutely
ERIN: Just because of the diversity.
ERIN: And even on The Next Generation, they have Geordi, who’s blind, and he’s on the bridge, and it’s not, they don’t really bring it up on the show.
STEVE: Right, they don’t have to.
ERIN: Right, so I just, I really love it. That’s why I just like it, I dunno.
ERIN: I’m like obsessed. With that show.
STEVE: Yeah, you’re a hardcore Trekkie?
ERIN: I’m a hardcore Trekker.
STEVE: I love it.
ERIN: *laughs* Yeah. What are some accessibility things or changes that can be made to make your travels or your stand-up easier for you?
STEVE: Well a big thing with New York is that most comedy clubs are in like basements.
STEVE: So there are very, very few places in which I can do standup. And it’s really hard because obviously there is a lot of room for improvement and the only way I can do that is by practicing but I can’t practice if I can’t get into any places.
STEVE: When I was in LA visiting with Robbie I got to talk to the showrunner of the show that he was on, and you know, he asked, “well, how often do you do open mics?” and I said Well I really don’t because I can’t get into a lot of the places.”
STEVE: And he says, “Why not?” and I said, “Stairs!”
STEVE: And he said, “Oh, you literally cannot get in places.” And it’s true, there are s o many places where I just can’t get in, and especially in like the outer burroughs, like going to Brooklyn, there are so very few subway stops that are wheelchair accessible.
ERIN: I found out the hard way.
STEVE: Yeah, me too.
ERIN: I was in the city with my then boyfriend and we tried to get on the subway at Penn Station and there’s like a huge gap in between the train and the platform.
ERIN: And people, the station is listed as accessible, but it’s really…
STEVE: It’s usually listed as accessible because it has an elevator.
ERIN: Yeah. But they don’t realize that, that isn’t the only thing that needs to make it accessible.
STEVE: And half the elevators don’t even work.
ERIN: I know, I just, I dread getting on those elevators. Because I’m afraid to get stuck.
STEVE: Yeah, it’s pretty bad. I mean, luckily for me my uncle is an elevator maintenance worker
STEVE: in New York City.
ERIN: Oh, nice.
STEVE: Yeah, so luckily I have yet to get stuck on an elevator
STEVE: And I don’t wanna find out.
ERIN: Now you’re gonna get stuck. *laughing*
STEVE: Yeah, probably.
ERIN: I also found that, find the streets in New York are just atrocious. Like the sidewalks are all cracked and the streets themselves have big holes in them.
STEVE: Yeah, the streets are bad.
ERIN: I almost broke my neck one time, like driving down a curb. I was like oh my god.
STEVE: Yeah, it all depends where you go. If you’re in the more populated areas, honestly the sidewalk accessibility is better than in my town. Honestly I just ride in the bike lane all the time.
ERIN: Mmhmm. Oh yeah.
STEVE: Way easier, way faster.
ERIN: Yeah, I’m like terrified to do that.
STEVE: No, it’s fun, try it.
ERIN: Okay, I’ll try it.
STEVE: Yeah, let me know how it goes.
ERIN: Yeah. All right, cool. Is there…how can we reach you? On Twitter?
STEVE: Yeah. You can find me on Facebook, Steve Way. Twitter and Vine @thesteveway.
ERIN: @thesteveway, okay.
STEVE: Yeah, and I mean like I said I’d like to have my website up soon which is thesteveway.com, and you know, once I get that up and ready you’ll pretty much be able to find everything from there.
ERIN: All right. Well thank you for being on the podcast.
STEVE: Ah, thank you for the opportunity.
ERIN: We had a lot of fun.
STEVE: Yeah, I did too, I’d love to do it again sometime.
ERIN: All right, cool. See ya.
STEVE: All right. Thank you!
Thank you for listening to another podcast by The Geeky Gimp. If you have any comments, questions, concerns, reach me on Twitter @GeekyGimp, or my email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope you enjoyed. Thank you. Bye-bye.