Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Heard the one about the hearing comic with deaf parents? Ray Bradshaw’s first language is BSL, British Sign Language, and in what may be a world first he performs his latest comedy show in both BSL and spoken English.
Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14)
His dad was born deaf, his mum lost her hearing to measles as a baby, but they’re no victims, they just got on with it. As a boy, Ray was able to help them, translating for other people, sometimes making calls to the bank (“I bought my first house at nine...”).
Growing up in the Bradshaw family sounds to have been fun, with Ray countering his dad’s fondness for farting – why should he care, he’s deaf, was his smell-denying attitude – with the odd creative lie involving other bodily functions.
The show’s three sections see Bradshaw signing to a video of him speaking, speaking while his mini-me signs, and, video off, doing both at once – no mean feat.
The very personal stories are funny – which helps when you’re in the Comedy section of the Fringe Guide – but also fascinating, especially for those of us who don’t have deaf people, and professional translators, in the family. It’s interesting to hear about how sign language differs around the world, how recently BSL was recognised, how hard it is to enjoy TV soft porn when your auntie’s signing in the corner of the screen...
Keeping up to speed with a recorded version of himself is a new kind of timing problem for a comic, but likeable Scot Bradshaw manages it beautifully – what could seem just a gimmick becomes a tool giving insight into not just one man’s family, but the wider world.
One in six of us will lose our sense of hearing. Deaf Comedy Fam proves it doesn’t mean you have to lose your sense of humour.
Until 28 August, Today 4pm..