CHICAGO: Mike Berkson and Tim Wambach’s relationship really started in the bathroom.
The duo met when Berkson, who has cerebral palsy, was in seventh grade and Wambach started working as a personal aide. Berkson’s condition renders his arms and legs useless. Basic activities like writing and eating are impossible for him to do on his own, and so are…other things. So Berkson and Wambach would have “bathroom adventures.”
“I’m able to look at some of the more difficult stuff that I have to do with a lot of humor,” says Berkson, “so that was always my way to get around some tough issues. I would always entertain people.”
Berkson eventually decided to use his love of storytelling to create Handicap This!, a two-person show he performs with Wambach about the pair’s various escapades, past and present. They have toured the show around the country and are returning to their hometown of Chicago Jan. 21–25 to perform at Stage 773. “There are things that will happen to us during the week, and we go, ‘We should put that in the show!’” Wambach explains. “We are constantly updating and using new experiences to educate and entertain our audiences.”
While neither has a long theatrical résumé, Wambach studied communications and “always wanted to be a professional speaker.”
As for Berkson, talking to people is essential to his identity. “When people ask me, ‘Do you get nervous when you’re onstage?’, I say no—because this is what I do every day,” Berkson says. “My whole life is my ability to speak, so I love to make people laugh.”