Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Humorist David Roche's book out Feb. 5

I have seen David Roche perform and if his book is half as witty as he is as a performer, it must be great. Roche has a facial disfigurement, but his humor focuses on what others reactions to him are.

"It is not the fact of my disfigurement that wears at my psyche," he says. "It is the fear and self-doubt of others, their very human concern about their own social acceptability, their worry about being unlovable and abandoned, which they project onto me."

His book, published by the Penguin Group of New York, is called The Church of 80% Sincerity, and the book's press materials explain, "Humor is the most subversive of the arts. In 'Church,' Roche uses it well to present a new paradigm for facial difference, one which effectively challenges the prevailing social definition of disability. Disability is not a tragedy or a reason for pity. It is not something to be atoned for, nor something to be cured. Instead, Roche claims, for him it has been a gift."

His book explains "how his disfigurement brought him to a deeper level of understanding of himself and of others. He shows how all of us have an inner sense of being flawed, a fear of being unacceptable to others."

Publishers Weekly Review calls The Church of 80% Sincerity a "powerful little book that's part memoir, part inspirational handbook. For Roche, being himself has meant coming to terms with a face so severely disfigured by a benign congenital tumor that he's been spat at and called a monster. He was rejected from a seminary because, he was told, his appearance meant 'people would not respect you as a priest.' The loss of the fathers of the Holy Cross is the general public's gain. A performer and motivational speaker, Roche is frank and witty and incapable of resorting to sentimental pap."

You can find out more about David Roche at: He is also featured in the brilliant 2006 Canadian documentary, "Shameless: The ART of disability." Directed by Bonnie Sherr Klein, it explores the lives and activism of five artists with disabilities. I highly recommend it, as it truthfully depicts the multi-faceted lives of passionate, creative people. The documentary is available for purchase from the National Film Board of Canada,