Dear Mike Epps,
On Sunday night, my husband Zach and I went to your stand up comedy show in Sacramento, and you were hilarious. From the first moment you came on stage, you had the sold-out crowd rolling on the floor. I knew it was going to be a good show right away. When Zach first asked me to see your show, I was excited because we both LOVE comedy shows, especially when we know and follow a comedian. We loved you in movies like “Next Friday” and the “Hangover” trilogy as black Doug, so we couldn’t wait to see you live.
You Were Born With a Gift
Everyone is born with gifts and talents. One of yours is the gift of making people laugh. That is at the top of my list of favorite qualities someone could possess. You have the power to bring joy and comedy to a harsh world that’s filled with so much stress and problems. I know for me, I look forward to seeing a show where someone can make me forget about the daily stresses and just have a good time, and you are so good at that. You are an excellent storyteller, and you have such a quick wit about you that is so really pretty rare.
I also enjoyed hearing a little about your life. We learned that you have four daughters. I saw pictures of them on your Instagram page and boy are they beautiful. I would take a guess that out of all the accomplishments you have made in your life; your four daughters are what makes you the proudest. You are a lucky man and so are your girls because they have a father who clearly loves and adores them.
I Can Relate
I also have four children. Two of them are girls like yours. Except one of them is not like yours. Remy, our four-year-old, has special needs. She has epilepsy and nonverbal autism. She was diagnosed with a rare seizure disorder called PCDH19 Epilepsy. This disease is the cause of her autism and many other neurological complications she deals with on a daily basis. Remy’s life is anything but easy, and she has gone through more hardships than anyone I have ever met, and she is only four. She is the happiest person I know with a love of life bigger than anything I have ever seen.
Remy has had over 800 seizures this past year alone. She stops breathing during her seizures, and we don’t know when that one seizure could take her life. It’s tough.
The Impact Of A Disability
Because of her seizures, Remy’s brain doesn’t function like it’s supposed to. This puts her in the category or label as having ‘special needs.’ She is just like the person you were making fun of last night at your show. But just because she may do things that are considered odd, those behaviors all have a function. Whether we understand those functions or not.
Why Is She Making Those Weird Sounds?
One way that makes some people with special needs look out of place is their movements. My daughter, Remy, stims. Stimming is a term used to describe repetitive body movements and sounds, which is also known as self-stimulatory behavior. It is very prevalent in people on the autism spectrum. When you get excited, your brain can prevent you from screaming out or jumping up and down. In someone with sensory difficulties, their brains aren’t able to naturally do that. This energy is released in a way that looks very strange and is not socially acceptable. In others words, their movements and noises make them look different or to use your word, “retarded.” So the movements that are so ‘hilarious’ and fun to impersonate, actually have a function.
It’s Not Easy
The areas of Remy’s life that make everyday activities extra hard are too many to count. Here is just a small handful.
Remy lacks social-awareness which makes going in public places dangerous. Someone always has to hold her hands or she will run off and could be in danger of getting lost or getting hit by a car.This limits what she can do and where she can go.
Remy’s seizure clusters last for days at a time which causes her great pain and misery while she lays in bed and misses out on everything. A four-year-old belongs at the park, not in bed all day.
She can’t speak, so communication is almost impossible. She cries when her needs arent being met and there is no way for us to guess at everything she is trying to say. Imagine trying to tell someone you are hungry and they think you are just tired and need a nap.
To teach her “normal” behaviors that come naturally to most people, she spends hours and hours each day in therapy to target these deficiencies. Her life is hard, very hard.
Your Jokes About Retarded People Just Aren’t Funny
You made fun of people with special needs for over 15 minutes of your show. The jokes got a lot of laughs which I am sure only encourages you to keep telling them but were they amusing? No, they were not.
Implications of Your Actions
Those words and jokes reflect a person who comes across as ignorant, uneducated, small minded and cruel.
It may be a sign that you often feel inferior to others and need to boost up your ego, I don’t know. But whatever the reason, you are wasting your platform that could be a doorway in bringing people up. To make them inspired and encouraged. How did you get where you got in your career? That would be a story your audience would love to hear and I know you could make it quite entertaining and hilarious.
I Hope You Were Joking
I don’t know if this was just a joke or based on a real event but listening to your story about having sex with a special needs woman was sick and disgusting. That was anything but funny even in the way you delivered it. I will have to always protect my daughter from predators like that, who will try and take advantage of a person who can not defend themselves. I pray every day that nothing like that ever happens. It made me cringe to hear the joke and hear the laughter that came from it. It wasn’t funny.
Let Me Tell You Something That You Didn’t Know
People with special needs are human beings with gifts and abilities that are needed in this world. Just ask anyone who is impacted by such a person, and they will tell you how their life is enriched by them. I understand that people with special needs can look strange or act and talk differently. This makes people uncomfortable. But under their shell are human beings. Humans that want love and acceptance just like you and just like your four daughters.
Talents and Abilities
Just like the talent you possess, of making people laugh, Remy has an ability of her own. She can turn all that ugly black stuff called fear and ignorance out of people’s hearts, and turn it into compassion, love, and inspiration. She can light up a room with her joy and laughter and she doesn’t have a malicious bone in her body. Remy has the gift of making people better people. That’s an even more impressive gift than merely making someone laugh.
After The Show
We left the show with mixed emotions. On the one hand, it was a good time. You put on a great set, and the whole crowd enjoyed themselves. On the other hand, you took some cheap shots at a defenseless group of people who only deserve love and understanding.
Later That Night
We got home and went to bed only to wake up an hour later to our daughter having a seizure. She continued to have seizure after seizure for the next day and a half. So far she has had over 30. It is excruciating to watch my four-year-old innocent girl suffer. All I could think about as I tried to comfort and care for my daughter in pain, is how as she grows up, she will face people like you. Those who mock her, make fun of and laugh at her everyday for something that she didn’t even choose. That is heartbreaking.
Our Job Is Simple
Since our brains function the way they should, and our bodies are healthy, we must appreciate those blessings and never take them for granted. But part of appreciating being healthy is to make sure that we take care of those who aren’t as fortunate. If we lift up the people who are different than us, we can invite in a different aspect to our lives that make us better people. Our job is to love them, protect them and build them up and appreciate the contributions that they bring to this world.
It is unfortunate that you feel like you need to write material that demeans and diminishes such a beautiful group of people. People who may not have the voice to defend themselves. It’s taking a cheap shot, and with your other incredible material, you just don’t need this in your show.
Dear Mike Epps, I Have A Request
I am asking you to remove the special needs content from your show.
You won’t need it. You will be respected so much more if you just raised your standards on what you talk about.
I hope that one day you are lucky enough to encounter and know a person with special needs like Remy. When you do, you will see what a blessing they are to this world and wouldn’t dare mock and humiliate them.
If you feel like using your influence to help, there is an incredible non profit organization called the PCDH19 Alliance, who help give back to the children with PCDH19 disease. They are a group of parents, whose ONLY goal, is to raise up the innocent children and help give them an opportunity for a better life. A life that we all take for granted every day. There are so many children who depend on able-bodied people like us, to make life a little bit better.
Thank you Mike Epps, I hope to see you perform again at one of your future and funnier shows.
Sincerely, a person who can hopefully still be your fan,