Meet Kidney Comedian, Jerome Coulter (AJ), a remarkable individual who has not only triumphed over the challenges of kidney disease but has also found the courage and humor to share his incredible journey through the medium of stand-up comedy.
Born in Dallas, TX but raised in Oklahoma, AJ’s childhood was rough. His birth parents were not around, and he was shuffled amongst family members as a child. While in high school he was homeless and on the verge of dropping out of school when he was adopted by a family that showed him true caring support and helped him grow as a person. AJ had a passion for football and a raw talent. His adopted parents spent 2 years helping him improve his grades and providing him with a stable home to pursue his football passion. He would later receive a football scholarship to Northwestern Oklahoma A&M College and then transferred to Oklahoma State University. “I am not saying my past defined me now but it definitely contributed to my growth.”
In 2016, AJ was having heart permutations and went to the hospital. Over the next couple days, he would be diagnosed with stage 4 kidney failure. The diagnosis was difficult to understand and therefore he continued his current lifestyle without any major changes. At the time, he admittedly was undeniably stubborn, and his lifestyle involved abusing substances of various types. His doctor prescribed several medications, including those to control his blood pressure, he did not take any of them! A year later this led to his kidneys failing and he was transitioned to dialysis. The next 5 years for AJ were some of the toughest and most depressing in his life. “I truly believe if I had understood the tragic depth of change I was about to undergo, I would have made some drastic changes earlier!” When AJ started dialysis, his fitness was still a priority but as this process continued, he lost his muscle mass and dropped from 235 pounds down to 178 pounds. It was also during this difficult time that AJ lost his twin brother. “I think most people would lose hope after that, but I think it was the traumatic transition I needed for change.”
It was 2020, and still during the time of his battle with kidney failure, that he discovered the therapeutic potential of comedy. AJ was working to clean up his life and creating posts on social media telling his jokes about kidney disease, this was gaining him followers on social media. “At the time I was just using it as an outlet to let people know what I was dealing with,” says AJ. Laughter became his lifeline, helping him cope with the physical and emotional toll of the disease. It was his sister who suggested he try stand up comedy. During this time the country was dealing with Covid and Phoenix was the only city still allowing in-person standup comedy. This is when AJ decided to move and start his comedy path. Within 3 months of arriving in Phoenix he had booked his first show. “I remember my first time and being so scared and nervous! I told this joke about a friend of mine looking at my fistula and thinking I was from the movie Aliens”, joked AJ. After the show a lady from the audience came up to AJ and said, “you have something here, keep going!”
In June of 2022, AJ received the gift of life through a kidney transplant. The life-saving surgery not only restored his health, but it was as if the new kidney brought with it a renewed sense of discipline and purpose in his life. “I will be an amazing comic, but I want to be an amazing icon that people in our position can look up to. I have learned that comedy is not therapy, it’s a
building block to a deeper understanding and foundation within yourself.” AJ continues to use his platform in comedy to advocate for kidney health awareness, organ donation, and support for individuals facing similar challenges. His story serves as a beacon of hope for those navigating difficult medical journeys, illustrating the transformative power of humor and perseverance. “I am proud that after everything I’ve endured, I found true happiness and got to share that with the world. One joke at a time!”
Contact Information: For bookings, inquiries, or to connect with Jerome (AJ) Coulter, you can reach him at www.diseasejokes.org or on Instagram @aj_coulter2. Don’t miss the chance to witness the laughter and inspiration that this kidney transplant recipient and comedy brings to the stage.