Commentary

Review: The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Laughs

It’s not your typical satire.

The Squeaky Wheel, led by Steven Verdile, is an online publication billing itself as “the first-ever satire publication that focuses on the experience of having a disability. It challenges common misconceptions, highlights absurdity, criticizes imbalances, and does it all with humor.”

If you read The Onion, purveyor of satire based on current events, or are a fan of SNL’s Weekend Update segment, you get the drift.

And if you don’t yet, here are a few recent headlines on The Squeaky Wheel Web site:

Occupational Therapist Cleverly Disguises Fine Motor Exercises as Jigsaw Puzzles 

Office Manager Hangs Posters of Disabled People to Inspire Employees 

Disabled Man Drops F-Bomb in Public, Several Injured 

Official disclaimer: Not all stories on The Squeaky Wheel are safe to read at work. Or out loud at home in front of small children.

But they all are funny, at least the ones I’ve read. The F-bomb story noted that after a person with a disability was tripped up by an uneven sidewalk and cursed, “Nearby store windows shattered spontaneously… A church bell fell from its tower and smashed a car.”

And a witness to the chaos was quoted as saying, “I prefer not to think about people with disabilities. If I do see them, they’re always happy, bless their souls.”

My favorite story so far: Hasbro Announces “My First Insurance Denial” Toy: “There are so many moving parts to insurance denials. Plus, the kids have to really use their creative and imaginative skills to figure out a scenario in which the disabled character actually gets their request approved.” Action figures for the “My First Insurance Denial” kit include “an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, a neurologist, and a wheelchair sales representative.” 

That story narrowly beat out “This Small Town Girl in a Lonely World Couldn’t Take the Train Going Anywhere Because It Wasn’t Accessible and Now She’s Stuck and It’s Midnight.”

That’s got to be the best headline of all time (at least for Journey fans like me). “Sources are reporting that on the same night, the same thing happened to a boy who was born and raised in south Detroit,” the story added. 

Editor in Chief Verdile, who has spinal muscular atrophy, created The Squeaky Wheel, but now has a team of people with disabilities who write local, news, and entertainment stories. The publication’s tagline: Be Loud. Be Disabled. Be Squeaky.

The Squeaky Wheel also has a Twitter account (@SqkyWheel) and a Patreon account.

 

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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