Tuesday, January 25, 2011

UK's only deaf comic using British Sign Language seeks more recognition

From BBC News:

The country's only deaf comic using British Sign Language in his act has appealed for help from top comedians.

John Smith first took to the stage in 2005 and since then has been performing to audiences across the UK and Europe, but dreams of taking his act further.

He said: "I think it's possible, maybe in my dream world. I really want a professional to watch me.

"I've learnt an awful lot the past few years. [My routine] is all about my experiences."

John will sometimes have an interpreter at his shows but feels their presence is not a necessity.

"I don't really need an interpreter. People can understand me through body language, facial expressions and props," he said. "My comedy is more visual. Billy Connolly, I'm similar to him."

Off stage John works as a sign language teacher but he said he has always been a comedian.

"When I was born with it was inside of me. I'm always teasing people, it's just my natural character."

"[At my first gig] I was very scared. I kept running back and forth to the toilet. Really I'm a very shy person but on stage I'm really confident. I realised that I could do it," he said.

John made a big impact when he first went on stage covering deaf issues but admits he is now more careful with "the politics" of being deaf.

However, he still sees raising deaf awareness as an important element of his act and hopes by raising culture issues he can have an impact on his audiences, so they go away with an understanding of deaf issues.

"It's really all positive," he said. "They realise that deaf people really can do anything."