Why This Woman With A Disability Wants You To Laugh With Her
Sam Longmore went through a tragic series of events involving two car accidents. Now, she's challenging stigma through comedy.
Sam Longmore doesn't know where she would be without laughter and knitting.
The 25-year-old spends her days on her farm near Yass, in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, creating gorgeous blankets, beanies and even dog beds.
She does this with one arm, after a tragic night involving two car accidents left her paralysed on one side of her body.
"For me personally, if I hadn't been able to laugh with people or have people laugh with me when I have fallen out of my chair, I probably wouldn't be sitting here today," Longmore told ten daily.
"That's the honest truth."
In October 2013, the then 20-year-old was driving home from Canberra when her car veered off the road. On the way to hospital, the ambulance she was travelling in was involved in a second accident.
"From all of that, here I am in a wheelchair, and not being able to use half of my body," she said. "The thought alone is pretty scary. It changed my life drastically."
It's a day Longmore won't forget but one she chooses not to dwell on.
"It's not who I am, or who I have become. From that day on, I was pushed out of my comfort zone and it made me grow up," she said.
I really wished it was something else that made me change, but it just so happened to be this. I have learned to open my mind a lot more.
Now, Longmore wants to challenge others to open up their minds to the experiences of people with a disability -- by having a laugh, where one is invited.
"I absolutely think comedy is necessary; I feel very strongly about that. Not everything needs to be as serious as what we may think."
Longmore appears in Taboo, a new show featured in Network Ten's Pilot Week starring comedian Harley Breen, that aims to use comedy to break down stigmas.
The premise of the show, which has had resounding success in Belgium, is as confronting as it is simple. The first episode follows Breen as he spends time with Longmore and three others with some form of disability before performing stand-up in front of them.
Longmore said the experience helped her to feel "alive and comfortable".
"I was nervous, but quickly learnt these people wanted to have the same conversations as I did -- you don't get that often," she said.
"Having Harley in the house meant we were able to have these serious conversations but also laugh about it aswell," she said.
It's a conversation Longmore believes is not lost in Australia, but one which needs lifting.
"I think it's there; it just doesn't need to be so serious," she said.
"There are so many incredible people out there doing what they love who have a disability. Just like every other able-bodied person doing something amazing, we need to be acknowledged aswell.
"Laughter can achieve that. You just need to know how or when to use it."
She hopes Taboo will stick with audiences across the country.
"If they can just take away one thing or laugh from it, that's our job done.
"I know it will stick with me and my new friends forever."
Taboo premieres on Network Ten on Tuesday August 21 at 9pm, or you can catch up on tenplay.