Ray Bradshaw – Deaf Comedy Fam

It’s always been a personal guilt of mine not seeing enough Scottish acts at the Fringe. I seemingly have an odd curse when it comes to seeing them. The first time I saw Ray Bradshaw two years ago at the Gilded Balloon he was thrown off kilter by some rowdy natives, last year Mark Nelson could barely get his show off the ground for constant heckling. It must be a frustration for Scottish circuit acts wanting to try make an Edinburgh hour when their audiences are expecting a trade of abuse.

But it would take some King Kong balls to try and hi-jack Ray Bradshaw’s show this year, as his show this year; Deaf Comedy Fam, is performed simultaneously in sign language. The child of deaf parents, Ray’s first language was sign language and has developed a show that his family could watch. Immediately you are thrown into the world as a deaf audience member, which then in-turn introduces his show for the hearing audience, which is nicely overlapped between the two languages. It immediately commands attention and you’re sucked in as Ray performs his introduction simultaneously for the hearing and deaf. Like Richard Gadd’s show last year, Deaf Comedy Fam takes stand-up comedy into a new realm.

The show is partly informal about the history of sign language but mostly focuses on Ray’s family of mischief makers and their endearing misunderstandings. Whilst this is a show very much about the deaf community, it’s a show about being brought up with love and humour that has influenced Ray into becoming a comedian. Never at once does he make out he had a hard life despite as he tells the press trying to lead him into making out it was. What might not be apparent at first, whilst performing simultaneous, the two languages are not necessarily in time with one another. So in someways he is hamstrung in trying to make this a laugh a minute hour, but that doesn’t stop the show having some great laughs through out with some well placed call back to add. Ray is charming, likeable, funny and innovative. It’s potentially a groundbreaking show that I think is deserving as of equal praise Richard Gadd received last year, that could bring a whole new audience to stand-up. It’s a show I’ll remember for years for being a first but loving, warm and funny. For the countless shows I’ve seen over the years, I will remember this show fondly and I can attest that is no easy feat. He’d probably be too modest to do so, but take a bow Ray Bradshaw.

★★★★ (and a half)

Chris Aitken