Disabled Toronto comedian catches strangers' shocking comments on tape
Comedian and actor Andre H. Arruda was filmed showing the taunts he experienced over three hours in downtown Toronto on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. (Key Fork .TV / YouTube)
Josh Dehaas, CTV Toronto
Published Saturday, November 8, 2014 5:03PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, November 8, 2014 5:15PM EST
On a rainy evening last week, Toronto actor and comedian Andre H. Arruda spent a few hours travelling around the Toronto Eaton Centre and Yonge Street while a fellow comic filmed.
In addition to stares, laughs and strangers snapping photos, Arruda says he was the target of more than 100 rude comments, including:
“Hey, yo, leprechaun”
“He’s so small”
“Aww, he’s so cute”
“Mini-Me, can you tie my shoes, man?”
Arruda, 31, is just over three feet tall and has had a scooter his whole life, so he’s used to the slurs. He usually listens to music to tune them out.
Still, he says, “it gets unbearable at times.”
Arruda was inspired to share his daily experience on YouTube after the success of a recent viral “catcalling” video, which showed aspiring actress Shoshana Roberts walking around New York City. In the space of just 10 hours, Roberts experienced more than 100 instances of verbal harassment from strangers. The video started a national conversation in the U.S. about sexism on the streets.
Arruda says he’s long had a rapport with his female friends, because he was the rare man who could understand what it’s like to face frequent taunts from strangers.
He hopes the video draws more attention to the discrimination disabled people face.
It’s not just the slurs that bother him, but the lack of access he faces when trying to go about his day-to-day life. For example, it’s still common to find steps that wheelchairs can’t mount and bathrooms that he can’t open from the inside, he says.
“I’ve been stuck in a bathroom for an hour just trying to get people’s attention.”
When it comes to rude comments, he thinks more education is the only way to stop them.
Arruda has Morquio syndrome, a genetic disorder that left him with dwarfism and makes it difficult for him to walk. He says the disability has been a good source for his comedy.
“I’m a three-foot-something man,” he says, “in a world full of giants.”
A graduate of Humber College’s comedy program, Arruda has appeared in many productions, including The Jon Dore Television Show, Kenny vs. Spenny and Warehouse 13.