Skip

Visual Comedy
October 12, 2008 6:44 AM   Subscribe

Have you heard the one about the deaf comedian? John Smith is Britain's only BSL (British Sign Language) stand-up.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (20 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Four Deaf Yorkshiremen (YouTube, 10 minutes)
posted by pracowity at 7:16 AM on October 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


No, I haven't heard about the—

oh. Very clever, you.
posted by LMGM at 7:34 AM on October 12, 2008


what?
posted by billybobtoo at 8:30 AM on October 12, 2008


Ever sense this was posted I've thinking about ASL as being something other than a way to encode English. I hadn't really gotten to the notion of complex wordplay that you wouldn't get from reading the English text, though.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:33 AM on October 12, 2008


I think you have to be deaf to enjoy this.
posted by ColdChef at 8:37 AM on October 12, 2008


He's delightfully funny. Love his act. So cool he's a pioneer comedian.

That sign language is so British! No, really. As an American who went to live in London for 4 years I was interested to note the differences between the two styles of communication, British and American. One thing I observed is that Brits didn't generally like to use specific words for things. If talking about repairing something, they said, "Oh, that widget" rather than "the channel lock pliers".

This trait strikes me as odd watching John Smith. His language is gesticulation rather than using specific words. It seems so inarticulate. But the audience loved him, got his points. I'm surprised there isn't a universal deaf language. It never dawned on me there would be a British deaf language and an American one.

Now you got me wondering what other deaf languages there are. omg there's an Irish Sign Language, Auslan and New Zealand Sign Language. wow. So five separate sign languages for deaf people who grew up in English speaking countries. It seems unfair they couldn't all communicate with each other with one language.
posted by nickyskye at 9:03 AM on October 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


omg there's an Irish Sign Language, Auslan and New Zealand Sign Language.

and a Scottish Sign Language. also known as a 'fistfight.'
posted by jonmc at 9:12 AM on October 12, 2008 [9 favorites]


omg there's an Irish Sign Language, Auslan and New Zealand Sign Language.

and a Scottish Sign Language. also known as a 'fistfight.'


Screw that, I already need subtitles.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 9:19 AM on October 12, 2008


Thanks for posting this.
posted by grounded at 10:37 AM on October 12, 2008


The performer's neither deaf nor british, but sign was his first language. Here's codawann's ASL translation of Sir Mix-a-lot's classic.

Another favorite with some amazing storytelling, deaf ninja.
posted by zippy at 11:02 AM on October 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think you have to be deaf to enjoy this.

Two cups of coffee later, I realize that this earlier comment of mine may come off as a little "douchebaggy."

Let me re-state: This comedian's performance seems to be crafted as to appeal primarily to the deaf and hearing impaired. I am unable, therefore, to appreciate it. But, good on him for finding an audience who enjoys it.
posted by ColdChef at 11:12 AM on October 12, 2008


Deeply cool. I wish, wish, wish I could read BSL.
posted by batmonkey at 11:28 AM on October 12, 2008


Quite a few jokes knocking people who use hearing aids or get cochlean implants.
posted by specialfriend at 12:01 PM on October 12, 2008


So five separate sign languages for deaf people who grew up in English speaking countries. It seems unfair they couldn't all communicate with each other with one language.

On the other hand, I share a language with many Deaf Africans. (There are some dialectal differences, but it's not that hard.) It seems unfair that hearing Americans, Canadians, Aussies, Brits, and New Zealanders can't all communicate with hearing Africans with one language. ;-)
posted by spaceman_spiff at 1:44 PM on October 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised there isn't a universal deaf language. It never dawned on me there would be a British deaf language and an American one.

There is a universal sign language, although I couldn't tell you how popular it actually is.

But it makes perfect sense to me that different countries would have their own sign languages. They do all still have to read and write in their home countries. Although it doesn't always translate so well... Many ASLers I know have horrible English grammar, for example. (On the other hand, one of the problems with my signing is that I insert too much normal English grammar into my ASL.)

Although a common explanation I've heard for the differences between ASL and BSL is that apparently the first sign language formally taught in the US was French Sign Language, which was then mixed in with the sign language that had developed locally already. From what I've been told, ASL and FSL have more in common than ASL and BSL.

I also find US regional differences to be interesting, personally. My parents are deaf, and my dad was educated in New Jersey, but my mom was educated in Texas and St. Louis. Even now, they'll sometimes use different signs. More frequently, my mother's friends who still live in the South will have different signs for things - even for the mundane, like the word 'apple'.
posted by lullaby at 2:09 PM on October 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


From the video I couldn't help but think his schtick is mostly, "Hearing people drive like this, Deaf people drive like this." I would have liked to see the fairy joke performed.
posted by betaray at 5:04 PM on October 12, 2008


Very interesting. Thanks.
posted by Rykey at 5:42 PM on October 12, 2008


"Hearing people drive like this, Deaf people drive like this."

Since you mention it.
posted by hippugeek at 7:54 PM on October 12, 2008


ASL as being something other than a way to encode English

My understanding (from a somewhat limited exposure... I took a community ed. ASL class in 3rd grade and learned a bit more about it in education classes) is that most sign languages have little or no relation to any spoken language. The regional differences lullaby referenced probably go back to the development of a signed language among an isolated group of deaf people. With the advent of schools for the deaf, etc. these regional languages mixed with others, but some of the dialectic elements still remain. It's rather fascinating to read about, actually. According to Wikipedia (I know...), ASL is more closely related, grammar- and syntax-wise, to Japanese than English.

Thanks for the post!
posted by amarie at 12:02 AM on October 13, 2008


I have very little ASL myself, but I've been impressed with how well it makes use of actual physical space. The sign for "eat" is a gesture with the fingers moving toward the mouth, so naturally the sign for "feed" is the same gesture pointing away from oneself. So logical.
posted by AuntLisa at 1:23 PM on October 13, 2008


« Older Credit Crunchy Granola Sweet   |   R.I.P Good Times Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post