As much as I love seeing my favorite bands live, I seem to often fall in love with the opening act. The latest example: Monday night at Bowery Ballroom.
While I have seen State Radio four times, Monday’s show was a bit different than the others. The opening act was the cast from “How’s Your News?” the new MTV show created by South Park’s Matt Stone and Trey Parker. The show’s concept is pretty simple: it’s a news show put on by people with disabilities.
The show’s roots go back to Camp Jabberwocky, a Massachusetts summer camp for people with disabilities. As part of a camp activity, campers would make a news show. Eventually the show began to include interviews with people on the street, the best of which were compiled into a best-of video that eventually found its way to Stone and Parker before they hit it big. With help from Stone and Parker, HYN put out a 1999 documentary of the crew’s travels across the country. The film won several awards and has been featured on HBO and PBS.
One thing led to another and now “How’s Your News” is on MTV as a full show. The group goes around the country seeing sites and interviewing people, some of whom include politicians, actors, musicians, and other celebrities.
The cast includes a charming group of people with all sorts of disabilities. Susan Harrington is legally blind and has a mental disability, according to the HYN website. Bobby Bird and Sean Costello both have Down Syndrome. Larry Perry has cerebral palsy. Jeremy Vest, Lucas Wahl, and Brendan LeMieux have Williams Syndrome, which basically makes it difficult for them to focus and endows them with insane musical ability. They opened alone and then played several songs with State
Radio, which was incredible.
Although initially the show’s concept seemed weird to me, it wasn’t long before I fell in love with the HYN crew and their mission. Through their newscasts, HYN empowers disabled people and educates viewers about people living with disabilities by showing that people are not defined by a diagnosis or the condition they might have. Sure, living with disabilities can be challenging, but the cast shows that despite their challenges, they are intelligent, capable, and talented. The show is charming, funny, and doesn’t get old nearly as quickly as I suspected it might. More importantly, the show familiarizes its viewers to people with disbilities and will hopefully promote understanding and sensitivity in an area where despite great progress in the past decades, we are still so often lacking.
For more information on How’s Your News, I suggest you check out their website at www.howsyournews.com. The site also has videos, which are ridiculously entertaining. You’ll see.
Below is a clip from the MTV show. Enjoy.