When you think about physical comedy, there may be a flash of images of the silent comedians or the absurd leg movements of John Cleese (he had a hip replacement surgery). But the role of physical movements in comedy is not just confined to one-note jokes or slapstick genre. It goes beyond that. Even the most word-oriented humor depends on a facial expression or subtle gestures.
Take, for instance, jokes that are entirely based on wordplay. Jimmy Carr—an expert of this type of humor entertainment—may be a self-acclaimed ventriloquist, but a confused head movement here and raised eyebrow there abruptly makes the jokes funnier than wordplay alone.
Importance of Facial Expressions to Convey Humor in Deaf Community
Indeed, facial expressions or gestures are an important part of comedy performances. Another community, to whom gesture is particularly important, is the deaf community. Like every community and culture enjoys humor, the hearing impaired does as well.
A lot of what is amusing for hearing people is amusing for hearing impaired. However, there are some types of comedies that one group likes more than the other. The role of humor in the deaf community is quite significant and slightly different from what you observe among hearing people. Two important aspects that help with better interpretation of humor for the hearing impaired are:
- Physical gestures
- Easy but humorous wordplay
The physically animated nature of various comedies, especially when the humor results from body language as it is from what is being said, give the impression that individuals who are deaf understand the humor very well.
Role of Sign Language Interpreters in Connecting Humor to the Deaf Community
Comedians in the past have employed sign language interpreters to make their humor understandable for the deaf community. But often, the joke would not be transmitted in the exact way as intended, as some of the jokes rely a lot on wordplay; this has often raised voices in the deaf community to get their own champions.However, the deaf community shares the same cultural and social experiences like everyone else, so they too should share the same comedy.
Today’s best comedians should employ sign language interpreters or even learn and use sign language in their act. After all, is anybody ever going to appreciate the physical expressions or gestures more than those for whom physical gestures are already programmed in their own language?