My deafness didn't stop me becoming a comedian
Growing up, Steve Day was inspired by the comedians he saw on TV. “When Ken Dodd or Billy Connolly came on, the whole family would be happy,” he says. But when Steve became severely to profoundly deaf as a teenager, his dreams of being a comedian suddenly seemed very far away. “I thought my hearing would make it impossible,” Steve explains. “I worried people would laugh at me.”
Persevering despite his fears, Steve found that he did make people laugh, but for all the right reasons! He also found that being deaf helped him in his early career. “For a long time, I was the only deaf performer on the UK club circuit,” Steve says. “There are more deaf comedians now – something I’m happy about – but having this unique selling point was very helpful.
“I don’t set out to raise deaf awareness with my performances, but I think it helps just by me getting on stage and demonstrating that it’s possible. I do talk about my deafness, but it doesn’t define me, and I’m most certainly not looking for sympathy.”
However, being deaf has presented unique challenges for Steve. “When I started, the only way to get booked for a gig was by phoning up, and I had tremendous difficulty using a phone,” he says. “Email and texting make it a lot easier to get gigs now.”
He also learned to ask for adjustments when performing. “In theatres, the professional lighting makes it harder to see the audience,” he says. “That’s a problem because I need to see them to gauge their reaction, so I need the house lights slightly on. Sometimes I’ve forgotten to ask and have made it difficult for myself.”
After a 20-year career, Steve now has advice for deaf children and young people looking to become comedians. “Just do it,” he says. “I wasted 20 years thinking I couldn’t. Deafness can be a pain in the bum, but don’t let it beat you. These are the best days of my life.”