There is nothing funny about being blind, but Patrick DeGuire wants people to laugh about his loss of eyesight.
In fact, DeGuire, who is legally blind, makes a living off people laughing at him.
The Otay Ranch resident lost a significant amount of his eyesight in 1995 because of an eye disease called optic neuritis, which is an inflammation of the optic nerve.
The disease started in his left eye and then it gradually progressed to his right eye.
Instead of living his life depressed and bitter, DeGuire decided to turn a negative into a positive by making light of his situation.
“I started pursing stand-up as a means of self therapy,” DeGuire said.
A comedian with about 17 years in the industry, the Sweetwater High School alum not only makes fun of the fact he cannot see, but he also pokes fun at his Mexican heritage, relationships and raising four children.
“I like to push the envelope,” DeGuire said about his comedy.
Before he took up comedy, the comic was a merchandiser for Pepsi.
It wasn’t until he lost his eyesight that he made the transition into comedy.
But the transition was a smooth one because making people laugh was second nature to him.
“At Sweetwater High School I was voted class clown,” he said.
When DeGuire had his full eyesight, comedy wasn’t even in the picture.
He enrolled at the San Diego Sheriff’s Academy but had to withdrawal for personal reasons not related to his vision.
A while later he had tried to re-enroll in the program while majoring in criminal justice at San Diego State University, but the unpredictability of life got in the way.
DeGuire first dipped his hand into comedy at the suggestion of his mother. His mother had read to him an article in a local publication about comedian Fred Burns had a disease called spinal bifida; she told DeGuire that Burns was able to turn a negative into a positive, so DeGuire tried comedy.
“The first time I went to an open mic I was atrocious, but I fell in love with it,” he said.
Now DeGuire has a résumé that includes making appearances on Comedy Central and touring and performing with
George Lopez, Paul Rodriguez and Dave Attell, just to name a few.
Once on stage most people who see his act for the first time don’t believe that he is blind because he doesn’t come out with a cane or a seeing eye dog, DeGuire said.
DeGuire said his 17 years in the comedy industry adds credibility to his audience when he tells them he has no eyesight.
Most people who attend DeGuire’s show hold him to the same standard as any other comedian. He said he doesn’t want his audience to laugh because they are sympathetic toward him; he wants them to laugh because he is funny.
San Diego has an unknown rich history of producing famous comedians such as Nick Cannon, Bobby Lee from Mad TV and Faizon Love.
DeGuire said it is his obligation to follow that tradition in putting San Diego, in particularly the South Bay, on the comedy map.
DeGuire enjoys using his comedy for charitable purposes. He has raised money for organizations dedicated to helping the blind, and has gone over seas on numerous occasions to perform for the U.S. troops.
DeGuire said there is nothing like putting a smile on a soldier’s face.
“When I perform in a comedy club people want to laugh, but when I perform overseas for the troops, they need to laugh,” he said.
DeGuire said he gets compared a lot to Adam Sandler, although he said he doesn’t see the similarities.
Today DeGuire is happily married to his wife Sofia who he had been with before he completely lost his eyesight.
“I met my wife before I lost my vision. I know exactly what she looks like,” he said
DeGuire said he hopes he can be a source of inspiration not just to blind people but also to anyone going through a personal hardship.
“I am only trying to be an inspiration to everyone that’s trying to turn a negative into a positive,” he said.
DeGuire’s next show is going to run from July 30 through Aug. 4 at Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.