How LaughFest Comedian Found Humor in Life with Tourette Syndrome  

There are a lot of misconceptions about Tourette syndrome, so it’s understandable that Samuel Comroe didn’t want to make it part of his comedy routine when he was first starting out.

“I didn’t want to be the Tourette’s guy,” he said. “I just wanted to be a funny stand-up comedian.”

Advice from a fellow performer that the audience was noticing his twitching anyway and he should own it, rather than having them mistake it for nerves – changed his routine for the better.

“Once I talked about it onstage, I realized how powerful it was,” he said. “Stand-up comedy, that’s what it is – being vulnerable on stage and being real.”

Comroe will bring his act to Grand Rapids as part of LaughFest’s official lineup, performing Thursday, March 16 at 7 p.m. at the B.O.B. His routine covers his family, growing up, marriage to his high school sweetheart, his dog, and a lot of observational material. He’ll also talk about and answer questions about his Tourette’s.

Diagnosed at age six, Comroe mostly exhibits twitching symptoms. Tourette syndrome is a Tic Disorder, characterized by “involuntary, repetitive movements and vocalizations,” according to Tourette.org. Although he describes his case as mild, that didn’t stop the bullies from singling him out when he was younger.

“As a little kid, not knowing what I had, it was very difficult,” he said.

Comroe often diffused situations with humor, a trick he learned from his dad, and eventually found more acceptance once he entered high school. In his junior year, he even started putting on his own monthly show in the school auditorium. More than 100 students showed up for his first performance.

Now that he incorporates his Tourette’s into his act, Comroe said he’s able to take back power from those who might perpetuate negative stereotypes about it. He knows many people have more severe cases of the condition than he does, but he won’t let Tourette’s slow him down.

It certainly hasn’t stopped his blooming comedy career. He’s appeared on Conan O’Brien’s show and won the prestigious San Francisco Comedy Competition and The Ricky Gervais Just Saying Stand-Up Competition.

“For me, I don’t see it as a disability,” he said.

He’s excited to be back in Grand Rapids for LaughFest. Comroe said he finds Midwestern audiences to be more fun, because they may not experience as much stand-up comedy as Los Angeles or New York City crowds. Like most comedians, he lives for the laughs.

“It’s the best, it’s pretty much everything you work for,” he said, of a positive audience reaction.

Tickets to Comroe’s performance can be found here. All proceeds from LaughFest benefit Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids.

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Photo courtesy of LaughFest

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