Ray Bradshaw: Deaf Comedy Fam: Carlisle Fringe Festival Village, Carlisle, 2018

In August 2018, after all the excitement of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I decided to see a show at the Carlisle Fringe. Now in its 2nd year, the Carlisle Fringe Festival combines the Carlisle Pageant and a bustling international market, together with a programme of comedy, cabaret and family shows.

Being my home city and staying in Carlisle over the summer, I went to see comedian Ray Bradshaw at the Fringe. Before the show started, I bought a drink from the purpose-built tent erected in the city centre next to WHSmith, H Samuel and Clinton Cards. The tent led to a crowd area and a free entertainment outdoor stage. A local tribute band was playing party hits such as Tina Turner’s Nutbush City Limits and Dexy’s Midnight Runner’s Geno which the gathered crowd seemed to love. I was then ushered into a tiny box of no more than seventy people to watch the comedy.

Glaswegian Ray Bradshaw is a unique talent. He is promoting a cause as well as the first night of his comedy show tour. Bradshaw can hear perfectly well but has grown up with deaf parents. His show Deaf Comedy Fam is a first for comedy as each show is performed by Bradshaw simultaneously in both spoken English and sign language. He is a CODA – a Child of Deaf Adults, who as he states during the performance has encouraged more than four hundred deaf people to watch their first comedy show through sign language. His jokes and stories about family life were inspired and extremely funny whilst learning about sign language was educational and invaluable. Bradshaw was extremely warm with his packed audience and I wish him every success with the tour.

This was not the Edinburgh Fringe (where Bradshaw first performed his show). No, here’s to many more years of the Carlisle Fringe and it was brilliant.

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