Deaf comedian delights, enlightens audience

Partnering with Geneseo Late Knight, Geneseo Organization for Deaf Awareness brought deaf comedian Andrew Fisher to the MacVittie College Union Ballroom on Friday Jan. 23. While born deaf, Fisher has a natural knack for comedy. Getting his start in Manhattan and Brooklyn, he’s widened his audience by touring colleges and universities all over the Midwest and East Coast.

As students waited to enter the Ballroom, members of GODA offered brief lessons in American Sign Language, teaching basic skills such as how to introduce oneself or say “thank you.” Having this understanding of sign language proved to be helpful during the following hour.

As Fisher took the stage, he handed the microphone off to a man in the front row. The performance involved both Fisher and interpreter Vernon Leon, who translated Fisher’s sign language. Although an unusual method of performing comedy, the performance still retained hilarity that was not lost on the crowd. Fisher’s impeccable timing and energy made for an enjoyable night that left the audience with a whole new perspective on the limits of stand-up.

Leon’s amusing commentary paired perfectly with the comedian’s rapid-fire sign language and pantomime performance. Fisher covered topics such as deaf road rage, living in New York City and the awkward situations that can arise being a performer with an interpreter. At one point, he paused the show to dip his hands in a cup of water because they were getting “tired out.”

As a result of his unorthodox approach, Fisher was able to deliver one clever bit after the next without relying on cliché or tired themes common to many other comedians. He further distanced himself from the parameters of traditional standup by including a short film at the end of the performance.

Based on his life in New York City, the film explored Fisher’s relationship with his girlfriend and her mother, following a nervous Fisher as he figured out how to navigate the religious differences between his family and his girlfriend’s. The subtitled film won over those who weren’t already sold on Fisher’s witty storytelling and kept everyone laughing in their seats.

Fisher and Leon’s partnership proved to work successfully as they exposed the crowd to a whole new type of comedy, mixing the dry humor of Leon’s commentary with Fisher’s expressive personality. The innovative duo did not disappoint.