IMAGE DESCRIPTION: DJ Demers is standing on stage with a microphone on a stand in front of him. He’s also holding a bottle of water.
On Wednesday night, I drove a bit over three hours to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to attend the Here To Hear Tour sponsored by Phonak. It was an awesome experience.
For my accommodations, I stayed at the Graduate Madison, which was just down the road from the venue hosting the show. And no, I didn’t get paid for the product placement for Phonak and the Graduate Madison 😛
I arrived at the Memorial Union, where the show was held. The building has several rooms, each with something going on such as a banquet, meeting, etc. I looked at the directory to see where DJ Demers would be. I found him in a room called the Council Room. The room was small and I realized that it was a pre-show planning room, so I was about to leave when he spotted me. We said hello and I introduced myself. We talked a bit and I found that our hearing losses were similar.
I lost my hearing at 2 years old. He lost his at around 4 years old. We both grew up mainstream with the focus on speech, not sign language. I lost my hearing due to an ear infection to make a long story short. He said he had no idea how he lost his.
Then Jill Von Buren, who does digital content and social media for Phoank, showed me where the venue for the show was located. I thanked Jill and walked around the venue.
This photo shows several chairs lined up for the show with an aisle in the middle. On the left side of the seating arrangement is where the hearing people sat. On the right side of the seating arrangement is where the deaf and hard of hearing sat because the monitor displaying the real time captioning for the show was positioned on the right side of the stage.
Well, get this – the right side of the seating arrangement was packed with mostly the deaf and hard of hearing people. DJ Demers himself said that he was impressed with how many deaf and hard hearing people came out for the show. I was impressed too. I had figured the majority of the audience would be hearing people with just a small amount of the deaf and hard of hearing people attending the show, but as it turned out, I would say it was about a 50/50 split in the audience. I was happy that the deaf community really was represented in this show.
In addition to real time captioning at the show, not one, but two ASL interpreters also assisted at the show. Originally, there wasn’t going to be an ASL interpreter, only real time captioning, but the University of Wisconsin came through big time to provide the interpreters.
The image above is a screen shot from this video from HearingLikeMe on YouTube. On the left, Maria, one of the interpreters, is signing while DJ is doing his routine on the right. DJ did what he could to get Maria to sign some embarrassing words that I would not repeat on a family website 😀 . But Maria was not fazed and did a great job of interpreting DJ’s routine, even interacting with him at times.Then Maria needed to take a break and another interpreter named Scotty took over.
Scotty came to the show feeling a bit under the weather, but she was a real trooper and did a great job interpreting the show. Scotty and Maria would switch back and forth a while as signing for a long time can take a lot out of a person. I regret not getting Scotty’s and Maria’s last names as well as getting an interview with them. Hopefully next time The University of Wisconsin has some sort of show for the deaf community, I’ll get my chance to interview them. They were awesome!
After the show, there was a meet & greet. I got to talk to DJ a bit more, then we had this photo taken of us.
Yup. I wore my “No More Craptions” t-shirt. I told DJ was it was all about as explained in my previous article. And he agreed about that. I was hoping to make the cut on the HearingLikeMe video that I posted above, but instead, I was on the cutting room floor – 😀 . All kidding aside, it was a great show and I was glad that I went.
It was my first ever stand up comedy show that I’ve attended live in person. I’ve never attended one previously because they would never have real time captioning and I couldn’t understand the comedian without real time captioning. I wish more comedians would do this, especially in a metropolitan area with a large deaf community like Madison, WI is. Hopefully DJ returns to Wisconsin and if he does, I definitively will be there for that one.
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Until next time, stay tuned 🙂