ASL stand-up comedy show

Stand up comedy is often confined to a performer speaking into a microphone on stage.

But for some, hand motions are the tool to communicate a joke.

Pierce College American Sign Language (ASL) Club hosted “The Extraordinary Talent Show” on Friday, May 10 at the Performing Arts Center.

Each of the comedians did their acts through sign language, while an interpreter narrated.

Ajamu Brown, an interpreter and a member of the Pierce ASL Club explained how this event started.

“The ASL Club from Pierce has put up the event for deaf performers who are also people of color,” Brown said. “Each performer would either dance, sing songs, tell stories and do comedy as we interpret what they are saying to the audience.”

C.J Jones, a deaf actor, and comedian was the special guest who hosted the event.  

Jones made his acting debut in “Baby Driver” directed by Edgar Wright, which grossed $229.6 Million at the box office, making it one of the highest grossing films of the year. He was also awarded the SAG-AFTRA Harold Russell Award for his performance.  

“I have been a stand-up comedian for many of years since elementary school, middle school, high school and going to a university,” Jones said.  “I love entertaining people of all ages and enjoy seeing them laugh and feeling good about themselves.”

Jones said being deaf was not easy for him at first but he learned to overcome his difficulties.

“I have overcome many things with my humor because it makes people except me as me and not the label they see me as C.J,” Jones said.

Jones then asked about how his social works have helped reach out to those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

“People would think that being hard of hearing means that you are unable to work or get a job or support themselves and get a good education,” Jones said. “Those are really misperceptions because there are scores and scores of deaf and hard of hearing people who have higher level  education degrees and have technical jobs.”

Vera Ann Reysag who is also a sign language comedian spoke about her journey both as a deaf person and as an entertainer.

“I fell in love with comedy because it makes people happy and laugh,” said Reysag. “Entertaining people really inspires them  and lift their spirits I am not afraid of being a comedian because I think I am more weird than normal so standing on stages is no big deal to me.”

Aaron Malabuyo, who is Reysag’s brother, is proud of the personality characteristics his sister has obtained in a life of comedy.

“She just likes to be goofy a lot and that is what I like the most about her,” Malabuyo said.  “When we were kids she would imitate different characters such as animals or people we would see on T.V.  I love seeing her do things she loves to do and I am so happy for her and that community she has built.”

Malabuyo believes Reysag inspires him.

“Seeing my younger sister do the things she wants makes me think I can do the same thing,”  Malabuyo said.

Erika Chirino who performed stand up comedy for the first time explained how her experiences growing up in Miami, Florida as a deaf person, influences her comedy.

“I am working to progress and become a better actor, and I want to advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing community,” Chirino said. “There are so much creativity and talent they have especially the body language they use and I want more exposure on that.”