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'The Disabled List' festival gives comics with disabilities the mic

A man stands in the center of the screen wearing a Seahawks-themed Christmas sweater in bright green and navy blue. He holds a microphone in his left hand with his right arm out
Anthony Evans
Dan Hurwitz
Dan Hurwitz created "The Disabled List" with fellow comic Kayla Brown in 2018. Hurwitz was a semifinalist for NBC's StandUp comedy competition in Seattle.

This weekend, what is thought to be the first-ever festival featuring disability-focused comedy in the Pacific Northwest, will take place in Seattle.

The Disabled List was formed in 2018 by two comedians with disabilities, Kayla Brown and Dan Hurwitz, to highlight other comics like themselves. Hurwitz said he saw other comedy shows highlighting people of color and queer communities, so why not those with disabilities?

"We really didn't know what would become of this, you know? I didn't know many disabled comedians at the time, only a couple really, but you know, we sort of took a leap of faith that we would find people," Hurwitz said. 

Since then, Hurwitz said they’ve grown the collective and community of comics with disabilities. People started reaching out to him about being in future The Disabled List shows, which at the end of the day was Hurwitz and Brown’s goal. They wanted to give comics with disabilities a platform and community.

In 2019, Hurwitz and Brown applied for a 4Culturegrant to turn The Disabled List into a festival. By the time they found out they got the grant, the pandemic had shut everything down. But that didn’t stop Brown and Hurwitz from shining a spotlight on comedians with disabilities.

"We made a movie – Kayla and I – about two disabled comedians trying to create a comedy show in a pandemic. So it was kind of like, it's like, a meta kind of thing going on," Hurwitz said.

The mockumentary, This is Spinal Injury, premiered in 2021 at the Northwest Film Forum which is where The Disabled List festival is also being held Jan. 27-28.

Hurwitz said it’s a full circle moment for them, finally getting to do the thing they literally made a movie about before it became a reality. The film will screen on the second day of the festival.

Grace Madigan covers arts and culture with a focus on how people express themselves and connect to their communities through art, music, media, food, and sport.