Finding the laughter
SUFFOLK COUNTY—“No one is perfect,” says the self-proclaimed Tourette’s comedian Chris Fox. Tourette’s syndrome is one kind of tic disorder, according to the Tourette Association of America. Tics are involuntary, repetitive movements and vocalizations.
Fox, 41, a William Floyd High School alum and longtime Shirley resident who recently moved to Blue Point, was born with the disorder and has struggled with it his entire life. It was his comedy, among other things, that helped him deal with his insecurities and spread awareness about Tourette’s syndrome.
Fox says his family growing up wasn’t particularly funny. His best friend, Bob Manion, was the “class clown,” though. Fox first performed onstage at the renown Carolines on Broadway about five years ago, shortly after taking a class held by comedian Linda Smith. Fox, to this day, still doesn’t know why he decided to take Smith’s class. “I didn’t know much about her or her class,” he said. Nevertheless, he says his first set went well. “I don’t want to brag, but I did alright for my first show,” he remarked with a laughed.
Future sets included repeat shows at Carolines, as well as performances at the New York Comedy Club and Governor’s Comedy at McGuire’s in Bohemia on Smithtown Avenue. It was here that Fox met comedian John Ziegler, who told him, “You have a unique voice, but I don’t know what it is.”
Fox was raised Catholic, but now considers himself Christian. He currently attends Calvary Baptist Church in Medford on Horseblock Road. It is here that his pastor, Chris, instilled in him the idea that “nobody is perfect.” Fox was bullied in school because of his uncontrollable tics, and began drinking when he was around 17 years old. “I never really liked drinking, but I drank to hide my Tourette’s,” he said, adding that alcoholism also runs in his family.
Fox’s wife, Nancy, and his faith, were instrumental in becoming sober. “My wife was going to leave me,” he said. “She accepted my Tourette’s, but not my drinking.” One day in the fall of 2012, Fox decided to make a change. He even recalled, on the day, an NFL game where the San Francisco 49ers crushed the New York Jets, 34-0. “I never looked back,” he said, regarding his sobriety. “I can be around people who are drinking, but I choose not to. It takes a man to say no.”
Fox’s wife, like the rest of his family, isn’t that funny either, according to the comedian. “Her only connection to comedy is through me,” he said of his wife, who originally comes from Wisconsin.
It’s been a few years since Fox’s last show. He says he has been going through “some personal stuff lately,” and decided to take a break. “I got to make people laugh and spread awareness about Tourette’s at the same time,” he said, thinking back on past performances. Fox does plan on returning to the stage, though. “I’ll do it when I’m ready,” he said.
Fox is also the author of a book, “How God Saved Me: My Inspirational Journey,” where he writes about his comedy, faith, Tourette’s syndrome and recovery. It’s available on Amazon.com.
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