Adam Keys hasn’t let three prosthetic limbs stop him from much.
He’s climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, hand-cycled marathons, and dabbled in stand-up comedy.
So why not add hosting the Oscars to his resume?
“When I recently heard that the Oscars were looking for a new host, I thought, ‘Why not me?’” the former Army paratrooper, who lost both legs and his left arm in a 2010 IED blast, wrote on his website, #Adam4TheOscars. “Think about it — I’m funny, I’m handsome, and I look taller on TV.”
Keys told Military Times he was watching TMZ a few weeks ago to get material for his comedy routine when he saw Kevin Hart had stepped down from the coveted emcee gig.
“I thought to myself ‘Just try,’” which is generally how he lives life these days, he said. “So I put something on social media and it started a little buzz.”
Since then, his online petition to get the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' attention has garnered more than 1,200 signatures.
It’s definitely a long shot that this Hollywood outsider would be called on to fill the shoes of past hosts, such as Jimmy Kimmel, Ellen DeGeneres, and the legendary Bob Hope, but Keys isn’t deterred. He said his friends and teammates are confident they can get his story in front of the right people.
“The thing with Adam,” said Sam Pressler, executive director of the nonprofit Armed Services Arts Partnership, where Keys attended a comedy bootcamp last summer, "he has this choice to be angry and frustrated with his circumstances because of what happened to him, or he could choose to live life as if he’d gotten a second chance ... and he chooses the latter. And I think that’s what really comes across with him.”
The Oscars would be the ultimate platform for Keys to share his story and be able to inspire others, Pressler said. “It’s a long shot, but if there’s anything you’ve seen from Adam, the things that people said are impossible for him to do … as a triple amputee, he’s done it, and so I wouldn’t put it past him to get there.”
“In all seriousness,” Keys writes in the petition, “I couldn’t imagine a better platform to share my story, to show the country that veterans aren’t broken, and to prove that disability is not defining.”
And even if he doesn’t get the gig, Keys would be happy with a consolation prize — maybe presenting an award or performing a few minutes of stand-up.
“All I know is I’m not giving up," he said. “I haven’t yet in life, and pushing my comedy to the next level, in a big way, is a challenge, but a welcomed challenge. I’m ready for it!”
Natalie Gross has been reporting for Military Times since 2017. She grew up in a military family and has a master's degree in journalism from Georgetown University.