Review: Deaf Comedy Fam

Pulse Presents: Deaf Comedy Fam by Ray Bradshaw – New Wolsey Studio last night and touring

A stand up show in BSL and English? That sounds a bit heavy going. But not in the hands of Ray Bradshaw, a Glasgow comedian whose childhood growing up with deaf parents inspired him to write this hour of integrated comedy, that combines two languages very cleverly in a stand up routine that takes a good natured side swipe at both the hearing and the deaf community, while teaching you things about deafness and sign language you may never have known.

For instance – did you know that BSL only became an official language in the UK in 2003 even though people have been signing since the1580’s? That in the USA and France signing is  done with only one hand?  That Australia has a myriad of variations and that sign language cannot become an officially recognised language until all the 300 odd aboriginal dialects have been  as well?  And in Nicaragua, a nationally recognised sign language only came into being in 2010?

Ray is now a veteran of the Edinburgh Festival, but in 2015 when he debuted on the Fringe only 6 shows were signed. So part of his mission is to raise awareness and make shows more accessible to deaf people. (All credit to the New Wolsey – who regularly make sure their shows are signed in the main house)

But its also about making the hearing aware of the issues and the joys of being in the deaf community too, as he recalls comic tales about his profoundly deaf but prolifically practical joker of a father, and his mother who lost her hearing at 14 months through a bout of measles yet never let this hold her back .

Using a mixture of recorded voice over while signing live, and media projection of signing while speaking live, this is a show that makes you both laugh and learn while admiring the dexterous skills of melding both languages into a recognisable whole that both deaf and hearing people can enjoy .

Bradshaw is an engaging performer who makes his point without hitting you over the head with it. He’s proud of his childhood and his parents – and far from seeing his upbringing as a disadvantage – shows the warm, self deprecating side of life that makes the best of everything– and can weld a joke out of any situation without fear of offence.

A very interesting and inspiring evening

Suzanne Hawkes

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