Meet Breaking Character's Dan Barra-Berger
By Dan Barra-Berger
Hello there. I’m Dan Barra-Berger, a blind storyteller, stand-up comedian, actor, voiceover artist and a filthy backpacker.
I’ve been a comedian for the better part of the last five years now, and much of what I talk about in my act and storytelling is based on the last decade or so of my living and travelling as a blind person. I lost sight completely in my left eye at age seven from a playground accident and the majority of my vision in my late 20s. Losing my vision at that age meant I had to relearn how to live in a world not designed for me—and that experience continues to give me nearly endless material to work with.
I’m proud of what I’ve been able to achieve in my career as a comedian so far, from being selected as one of CBC’s Top 100 performers in their NextUp competition, to being a returning guest at the ReelAbilities Film Festival’s Comedy Night, to being a quarter-finalist at Toronto’s Comedy Brawl. On the acting front, I’ve most recently had a speaking role on Apple TV+’s See and lent my voice to a number of works, including podcasts and dramatic readings. A personal favourite was the role of Kylo Ren in Star Wars: Duel of the Fates, a dramatic podcast based on an early script for Star Wars Episode IX.
I was extremely flattered—and frankly surprised—when Breaking Character approached me. I’m not entirely sure how they found me if I’m perfectly honest. My website has terrible SEO and I have a promotion/advertising budget of, well, zero. But when Michelle, Karen and Ian popped up on my laptop screen for our initial chat, I was on board with the project immediately.
COVID-19 had derailed everyone’s lives, but especially those of disabled artists. So, I saw Breaking Character as a route back in—back to comedy, storytelling and everything else around it. I viewed it as another avenue to get my message out there, but most importantly, some stage time. I’ve got an ego to feed, after all.
I feel shows like Breaking Character are super important for putting a light on one of the most underrepresented groups in entertainment: people with disabilities. I’m one of many disabled comedians based in Toronto—the majority of whom are far funnier than I am—yet we don’t get the stage time we deserve. I don’t want to call it outright ableism, but a lack of accessible venues keeps us from being seen. Comedy is full of allies who want us to share the stage, and shows like Breaking Character will help get the spotlight (and microphone) right where it needs to be.