Your mother taught you not to laugh at people who are different, but Selene Luna invites you to do just that.

The comedian/actress/burlesque artist may clock in at 3 feet, 10 inches, but her larger-than-life personality leaves her towering over others of average height.

On Wednesday, Luna brings her stand-up act “Special Needs” to the St. Lawrence Arts Center in Portland. The following weekend, she’ll perform as part of the Maine Comedy Festival & Golf Tournament at the Bethel Inn Resort.

Luna is best known for her roles as the motel owner in the film “My Bloody Valentine 3D” and as comedian Margaret Cho’s assistant in “The Cho Show.” She’s performed with the Velvet Hammer Burlesque troupe, and has written and performed six original one-woman shows. She’s an outspoken and humorous supporter of a number of social causes, including gay rights and marijuana legalization.

“As a child I knew that I was different, but I didn’t quite understand that I was a little person,” Luna said. “At age 5, I had an epiphany. I would become a performer because I wanted people to laugh at me on my terms, because they were doing it anyways.”

Luna’s love for the glitz and glamour of show business began early in life. She was raised in Los Angeles, and her family visited Hollywood most weekends to enjoy movies and pizza.

Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1970s immersed her in the politically correct environment that was just beginning to develop. While she appreciates the sensitivity embodied in political correctness, she also sees a lot of humor in the movement’s preferred terms.

“I talk about this in my show,” Luna said. “The first time I was called ‘special needs’ was by a therapist in school. I appreciate those words, but I always felt patronized by them.”

In addition to the discrimination she’s faced because of her body type, Luna has also confronted the hardship that comes from being part of a family that immigrated illegally to the U.S. from Mexico.

Dealing with sensitive subjects such as these, Luna said, “takes some finessing to let the audience know it’s OK to laugh.”

When asked why anyone should check out her show, Luna said, “I really hope people come out to see me because, number one, I have to pay my rent. But mainly because people’s idea of little people is what you see on TV. They’re always the butt of the joke, never self-empowered. (The show demonstrates that) someone like me has a voice and is relatable.”

Her quirky and sometimes crude style quickly connects her to any audience.

“I think ultimately, everyone in their lives feels like (they have) special needs,” Luna said. “I also make fun of all the political correctness. I try to make it accessible to all with comedy.”

Just don’t tell your mother you laughed at her politically incorrect jokes.

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

[email protected]

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Twitter.com/AveryYaleKamila