It’s rather unfortunate that in order to hear what’s being said at a comedy gig, I have to sit close to the front. This is especially when a 20-something journalism graduate with a mild hearing loss is quite the easy target for the front row…
Thankfully, the Laughing to Deaf comedy night at The Comedy Store allowed me to retreat to the third row, with British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters and speech-to-text reporters being available throughout the night. The wonderful people at Action on Hearing Loss kindly invited me down for the evening to check it out.
Previously, comedy sometimes had a feeling of loss or confusion with it as a deaf person. I either missed the punchline altogether or processed it in my head moments later, when the comedian had moved on to joke about another subject. The same applies to theatre shows, too.
Fortunately, at Laughing to Deaf, everyone was in the same boat, and at times a typo on the screen or a crude word in BSL often added more to the comedy and jokes being told on stage. When a series of explicit gags were said during Ed Gamble’s set, the comedian joked that he’d only be getting 30% of the applause at the end of his set. Interpreter Karl – who did a fantastic job alongside Audrey and the two palantypists in terms of communication support – certainly stole the show at times during the night due to some of the obscene words and phrases he had to sign throughout the night. Hats off to him.
Bravo to all the comedians as well. Action on Hearing Loss ambassador Samantha Baines was a hilarious MC for the night, and Angela Barnes, Eshaan Akbar, Ed Gamble, Russell Howard and John Bishop were all brilliant. Hearing that Samantha, Angela, Eshaan and John all had connections to deafness or hearing loss was especially refreshing.
Yet one of the best parts of the evening came from what happened off-stage. Throughout the night I bumped into several deaf writers whom I had had many a conversation with online. It was great to see Ellie (or Deafie Blogger fame) once again, and to finally meet Louise (of Louise Deaf Awareness) and fellow deaf journalist Josh Salisbury.
Now, to say that comedy brings people together is common knowledge, but Laughing to Deaf also saw us come together to celebrate Action on Hearing Loss and the amazing work that they do to support those with hearing loss.
If you want to find out more about them – including their Don’t Be A Doughnut campaign as part of Deaf Awareness Week – visit their website and give them a follow on Twitter.
Note: I was kindly invited by Action on Hearing Loss to attend their Laughing to Deaf comedy night for free in exchange for posting content on social media and on other platforms. I did not receive payment and all thoughts and opinions in this piece are honest and my own.