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February 24, 2004

Comedian uses humor in presentation on deaf culture

From: Ball State Daily News - Muncie,IN,USA - Feb 24, 2004

Event starts American Sign Language Club's awareness week

YaShekia Smalls | Chief Reporter

The Student Center ballroom became a deaf education classroom Monday night as a deaf comedian kicked off Ball State's fourth annual Deaf Awareness Week.

In a presentation titled "DEAFology 101: Deaf Culture As Seen Through the Eyes of a Deaf Comedian," Ken Glickman used jokes and words he created to highlight the unique experiences deaf individuals face.

"It's fun, and humor makes things bearable," said Glickman, who was born deaf.

As he rushed onto the stage with disheveled hair, a white scientist's coat and glasses, Glickman, also known as "Prof. Glick," introduced himself to the audience as a scientist, or a "signtist."

"I'm a deafologist, and I study deaf people and culture and their interactions with those who can hear," Glickman said. "Those of you who can't sign, don't you worry about that. That's what you call handicapped," he joked in response to the common perception that deaf people are handicapped.

"I consider myself an equal-opportunity comedian, and I make fun of both worlds in a nice and fun way."

Glickman said many situations arise in the deaf world that can't be described using regular words. For this reason, he tries to create new terms to describe these situations.

For example, Glickman described hearing people as "hearies" and deaf people as "deafies." He also said even when he approaches a green light on the road, he slows down as a result of "ambulophobia" -- a fear of approaching ambulances.

"These are fine examples of the raw-packed power of words," Glickman said.

Glickman also said after studying the structure of the ear, he found that the ear is one-dimensional, as it can pick up only one sound at a time. However, deaf people are three-dimensional: A picture is worth a thousand words, Glickman said.

The comedian said he used to enjoy performances by other deaf people, but he could sense they were angry and were trying to get back at the hearing.

"They're gone now, and frankly, I guess I'm one of the few who can perform on deaf culture all over the country," Glickman said.

Glickman is the author of two humor books on Deaf Culture: "DEAFinitions" and "More DEAFinitions!" He recently published his third book, "Deaf Proverbs: A Proverbial Professor's Points to Ponder," of which he said he is most proud, as it contains 243 proverbs.

Mandy Curran, vice president of Ball State's American Sign Language Club, said she enjoyed the presentation.

"It was a sort of lighthearted way to get a few people pulled in and spark their interest," Curran said. "It raises a higher level of respect and helps to point out things the hearing culture doesn't think about."

Senior Lindsay Sample, co-chair of the event, said she enjoyed listening to Glickman speak for the second time in the past four years.

"I like the funny and amusing jokes," Sample said. "Most people probably didn't expect this kind of comedy presentation. It was definitely deaf-culture oriented."

The club will be hosting several other events in celebration of Deaf Awareness Week, said senior club member Sarah Apgar. Donald Tinsley Sr. will be speaking in a presentation titled "Black Deaf History and Culture" Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Student Center Cardinal Hall B.

On Wednesday, Peter Artinian, the father from the documentary film "Sound and Fury," will also give a presentation at 7 p.m. in Cardinal Hall B. American Sign Language Club members will present "Deaf Culture 101: Introduction to Deaf Culture" Thursday at 7 p.m. in the same hall.

On Friday, Peter Cook will be telling stories in a presentation titled "Fasten your Seatbelts!" Friday at 7 p.m. in the Student Center Forum Room.

Apgar said she looks forward to the week's events and plans to continue them in the future.

"They introduce people to deaf culture in a unique way," she said.

Senior co-chair Jeff Guilkey said the events will also help to correct some of the misconceptions most people have about the deaf community.

"Calling someone deaf instead of hearing-impaired is a sign of respect that it's a culture and not just a medical condition," Guilkey said. "It's not a disability; it's just a part of who they are."

© 2004 The Ball State Daily News