The film John and Joe Bishop: Life After Deaf will air at 9pm on Thursday 22 September on ITV. It follows the story of John’s eldest son, Joe, who has an autoimmune condition causing progressive deafness. John set himself the target of delivering an entire signed stand-up comedy gig to a deaf audience – Life After Deaf.
Michael Quinlan, Locality Manager at RNID, was lucky enough to be invited to the private gig in Bedford in August, alongside other members of the Deaf community.
He said: “RNID was invited because of our work on the BSL Act this year. This was a major success for the Deaf community to have our language legally recognised for the first time, and RNID were proud to be a part of that alongside the British Deaf Association and other charities.”
John Bishop’s new set was delivered to a deaf audience alongside established deaf comedians such as Gavin Lilley and John Smith who are well known in the Deaf community.
Michael, who is deaf and uses BSL, said: “I’ve seen deaf comedians before, but I’ve never been to a gig with a hearing comedian. Often mainstream comedy events aren’t accessible for the Deaf community as interpreters wouldn’t always be provided, and as comedy is based on lived experience and culture it’s unlikely that I would appreciate the humour.
“The fact that John Bishop did this gig for the Deaf community and performed in BSL is absolutely amazing! Having someone like John use his popularity to give BSL the exposure it needs in mainstream society is fantastic. It’s great also to see a hearing parent of a deaf child learning BSL – it would be amazing if all parents of deaf children followed his example and embraced BSL in this way.
“Considering John has only just started to learn the language he did really well! I think his fingers could do with a bit of oil to make them move more freely, but it was a great attempt. There were many deaf people in the audience and it was a really good event.”
Michael said that learning a bit of BSL makes a big difference to the Deaf community:
“Increased awareness of BSL opens up a whole new culture and improves life for everyone who has deaf people in their family, in their friendship group or living next door.
“BSL is an ancient language, it has been around for many years, however, for most of that time it has been a ‘hidden’ much misunderstood language. People are slowly becoming more aware, but deaf people still face many barriers accessing employment, accessing services and even healthcare.
“If you want to learn BSL, it’s essential that you learn from a qualified teacher from an accredited body such as Signature or iBSL – you can visit RNID’s website to find out more.”