Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pong Down Under

Photo credit: Grant Meredith
Every time Grant Meredith comes into a Stutter Social hangout, those in the group who haven't previously met him enthusiastically ask about the gaming posters adorning his walls.

A lecturer in multimedia and games design at the University of Ballarat in Australia, Grant is also an avid collector of game consoles.

“I have about 200 or more consoles," explains Grant. “Most of them are basically Pong. And a different version of Pong. And another different version of Pong!” he laughs. “My Pong powers are such that I play myself at Pong. Right hand versus left hand.”

When he is not playing Pong or tending to his other important responsibilities of life, the father of two enjoys hanging out with his fellow stutterers on Stutter Social. It gives him easy access to a support group since the nearest one is about 100 km away from where he lives.

“Stutter Social makes it basically a button press away. I guess because in my country, everyone is so widely dispersed and it's really hard to get a number of people who stutter online at the same time.”

Along with the international participants in the hangouts, Grant is drawn to the ease being able to talk to other people who stutter around the world in an open environment, “and a non-judgemental one. I like the fact that it's not technique-orientated because that's normally more exclusive then. I'd class this service as inclusive. It is open to anybody who stutters in any shape or form.”

It's also that open environment that Grant says makes it easy for first timers to quickly feel at home.

“I can understand how it can be a scary step for some first timers,” he ponders. “You might not be comfortable stuttering in front of other stutterers. You might not want to put your hand up and talk at various times, but it's a brave step you should be taking.”

“[Stutter Social] is a non-pressure-filled environment and nothing will be held against you. You don't have to use any form of technique. You can practically talk about any topic, too, and everyone there is friendly and fun.”

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Introducing our new host: Samuel Dunsiger

Photo credit: Ali Salem, regular Stutter Social
participant and fantastic photographer!
We are pleased to announce that Samuel Dunsiger, our communications director, is now a Stutter Social host!

Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Sam is a freelance journalist and communications specialist, with interests in writing, social media, health and wellness and making a difference. A self-diagnosed entertainment junkie, Sam enjoys reading, watching movies and TV shows.

“And, of course, hanging out with my stuttering peeps,” Sam adds, “whether it be old friends or making new ones on Stutter Social or at the NSA conference."

Sam was involved with Stutter Social as a participant from the beginning. “The co-founders (and new friends of mine from the 2011 National Stuttering Association conference in Fort Worth, Texas) wanted to keep in touch with their friends and maintain the momentum from the conference. I thought it was a brilliant idea, since I had met a lot people who stutter at the conference and it was even my first time doing so. Then we started getting participants from around the world. Stutter Social became my support group and, since then, I've missed very few hangouts.”

As a new host, Sam is looking forward to continuing to meet others who stutter from around the world and learning from their experiences and offering his own. “It's that whole idea of support. You're building friendships with people who know exactly what you're going through and vice-versa. You're helping them and they're helping you. It's a really powerful thing to have.”

Sam hosts Thursdays at 8:30pm Eastern Time (Toronto/New York) alternating with co-founder David Resnick.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Recap of Q+A hangout with comedians who stutter

Last week, Stutter Social broadcasted a Q+A hangout On Air with two comedians who stutter: Nina G and Jody Fuller. Nina is a stand-up comic living in San Francisco, California, and Jody is a professional speaker and captain in the U.S. Army living in Opelika, Alabama.

The two comedians took questions from the audience in the hangout and viewers watching on YouTube. Questions centered around how they achieved their dreams of telling jokes on stage in spite of their stuttering.

Doing stand-up comedy was one of Nina's un-realized childhood she decided to give it a try. "I really felt that everything I wanted to do as a kid I was doing. With the exception of this," Nina explained, "I just needed to do it because this is a lifelong thing that I wanted to do".

Jody chose not to turn down the opportunity to get on stage when it came up. "You can look at my old yearbooks from high school and people were like 'Hey one of these days we will see you on HBO'. But being from a small town in Alabama, I had no idea even how to pursue anything like that. When my friend told me about her friend who did an open mic, I [asked muself] 'why the heck not?'.

On the topic of dealing with stuttering ruining a punch line, Nina shared, "It's always an issue. I kind of feel that punch lines are like saying our names. There's no way of getting around them so we will stutter on them more. And that's where practising a lot lets me get to know the material very well so the pressure isn't there to get it out just right."

Jody works any unexpected stuttering into the joke he is saying. "I play it in. I'll be like, 'I wrote this joke and you would have thought I would have seen it coming' or something like that. So I just work it in and I usually give it another try and it comes out okay."

Participating in the hangout audience was Jason Walther, who was inspired to fulfill his dream of doing stand up after he saw our hangout guests performing at a comedy night that Nina organized during the National Stuttering Association conference last year in Fort Worth, Texas.

"It was wonderful to have two role models and to see you can do comedy while stuttering.", said Jason. "I remember a few days later, I was talking to Nina and she got on her laptop and said 'You're going to pick an open mic' and she made me sign up for it. So a few weeks later, I went to the open mic and it was terrifying. But I am loving it."

Jason asked Jody what made him go back on stage and try again after failing at an open mic early on. "At the risk of sounding like the TV movie of the week," explained Jody, "I'm an 'adapt and overcome' kind of guy. I'm not going to let one struggle or pitfall turn me off on anything. Chalk it up as a lesson learned."

"As long as you are funny," shared Nina, "that is the big thing".

The Q+A hangout is available for viewing on YouTube and is embedded above.