I was initially surprised when the doctor advised that I have diabetes. I hadn’t eaten sugar for more than three years. It was then that I discovered several of my family members had diabetes, including a cousin who was diagnosed at the age of five.
Alissa: How did you get into the comedy?
Brad: Before I moved to California, I taught high school for two years in Michigan, but realized that the classroom was not for me. I was pretty young, only three years older than my students – and, honestly, probably less mature than some of them.
It was time for a life change. My brother and I moved to Los Angeles where I started to work at comedy clubs. It changed my life.
Alissa: How did you get your foot into the door to become a successful comedian?
Brad: I think everybody needs to have a certain amount of talent to get into comedy. I had already dabbled into comedy while at college. I knew that when I moved to Los Angeles, there would be stiff competition. California is a hub of talent attracting the cream of the crop from every city around the country. So while talent is extremely important, tenacity is what will sell you. In show business, you are one phone call away from something really big happening or vice versa -- one phone call away from disappointment.
Alissa: What is your greatest accomplishment?
Brad: Longevity, I've been in show business and I've made my living. I'm a renaissance man. I write, I act, and I do comedy.
Alissa: Have you ever experienced hypoglycemia during a comedy show?
Brad: I always test my sugar before I go on stage or begin to shoot a television show/movie. I admit that I get irritated when I hear a person who doesn’t have diabetes say, “I need a candy bar. I have low blood sugar.” The reality is that person doesn’t even know what low blood sugar feels like.
Knowing that there are times when I do suffer from hypoglycemia, I’ll have juice onstage with me. I make a joke out of it – telling the audience that it is just a cocktail. One time, I didn’t have juice on stage with me and my sugar began to drop. I made it part of my routine. I went into the audience and asked a person, “What he was drinking?” If it was a margarita or some other alcoholic drink, I wouldn’t chug it. But if it was juice, down it would go and then I would joke that that the person was a lightweight and clearly we know who was the designated driver for the night.
Alissa: What is a typical eating day for you now that you have lost all this weight?
Brad: I credit the vegan, macrobiotics, green-base, whole, brown rice diet that I started on all those years ago to being the impetus to change me. But the diet is restrictive because you have to cook a lot. And the nature of my job and the ‘real world’ doesn’t allot the time to be in the kitchen all of the time. So, I've adapted. I'm pescatarian – I eat fish. I used to crave a dozen donuts, now I'll have a bran muffin.
Alissa: How are you able to count carbohydrates in a restaurant?
Brad: I have studied all of the exchanges, and I am a creature of habit. But, if I am ever in an out of the ordinary situation like a dinner party or buffet – I eyeball the food selections. I do have a meter with me, but I don’t usually whip it out to test everywhere. If I am really unsure, I will discreetly test under the table. I also know that if I do try something new, I check my sugar an hour later and make adjustments to my insulin.
Alissa: Are you on a pump, or do you use syringes?
Brad: I choose to stay on MDI (Multiple Daily Injections), for my own personal reasons.
Alissa: You recently said that people have a false impression about what a diabetic can or cannot eat. Tell me about that.
Brad: When someone asks if "I can eat that?” I advise yes – but then state, “that maybe neither of us should.” Just because you can eat garbage doesn't mean you have to eat garbage. The truth is, diabetics can eat the same thing as anyone else. I choose to eat a little better quality food. There are times I drink beer. Once in a while, I'll eat something a little crazy. I can order a huge bucket of popcorn at the movies, if I wanted to. I choose to eat what I want to eat and when I want to eat it.
Alissa: Tell me about your cartoon