On Wednesday, Feb. 3, SUNY New Paltz was paid a visit by a comedian by the name of D.J. Demers, who is not quite your average comedian.
“I got two disabilities. I am Canadian and I have hearing aids,” said Demers during his performance held in the Student Union Building Multi-Purpose Room by the Union Programming Council.
Demers is hard of hearing. He has very limited hearing in his left ear and is almost completely deaf is his right. “No pity, no sympathy, please, I love ‘em,” said the comedian about his hearing aids. “At this point, my right ear is just ornamental.”
The 30-year-old comedian from Toronto, Canada has been doing comedy for seven years now, first stumbling upon it at an open mic night during his college years. He has had hearing aids since he was 4 years old, does not know sign language and is not the only member of his family who is hard of hearing.
“I take out my hearing aids when I sleep. It is so peaceful, so really who here has the disability,” said Demers at the show, mentioning he uses a vibrating alarm clock, which he likes. “All my dreams end in an earthquake though.”
When initially getting into the scene, Demers did not want to do “deaf comedy” and be pigeonholed into only those type of jokes. That was until he discovered a famous comedian who made $20 million exploiting a specific niche of comedy.
“For twenty million? I would go full Helen Keller,” Demers said.
Although jokes playing on his inability to hear properly were his strongest bits, Demers did throw in other jokes. His jokes included but were not limited to, gripes about his ex-girlfriend, how people think he is gay due to his lisp, why restaurants do not label their bathrooms with the standard “men” and “women” signs, being Canadian, how his family thought his cousin was a hooker in Los Angeles and how people think his profession is a disc jockey due to his name being D.J.
“I like how his jokes covered a variety of different topics and how he was not too offensive,” said attendee Darren Lyons, a 40-year-old student earning his second degree. Lyons, a fan of comedy, was surprised there were not too many people in attendance and mentioned seeing Demers on the talk show ‘Conan.’
“Conan was amazing,” said Demers, who appeared on the talk show on Dec. 1, 2014. “He smells amazing.”
Despite his appearance on the famous talk show, there were only about 10 people in attendance at this performance. “Wow, full house,” joked Demers during the show, which the audience responded with laughter and clapping, to which he then replied, “I cannot tell if you guys are applauding or not.”
Among the audience was John Roll, a 28-year-old student who, like Demers, is hard of hearing and uses hearing aids. Roll was there to watch how Demers performed with his disability.
“I was exposed as ‘the deaf kid’ in elementary school when we played the game ‘Telephone,’” said Demers. “The word was ‘sandwich.’ I thought the kid next to me said ‘Mortal Kombat.’”
Also in the audience was 19-year-old second-year Sabrina Lee, who found out about Demers through her American Sign Language teacher. “He was exactly as funny as I thought he’d be,” said Lee, highlighting his quirky, dark style of comedy.
“Marco Polo is not my game,” laughed Demers, pointing out that hearing aids are not waterproof yet vibrators are. “I get that vibrators need to be waterproof though because if they are not wet then they are not doing their job.”
After the show, Demers answered a question from the audience about the weirdest show he performed. He recalled a small venue in Canada.
“There is no stereotypes about guys with hearing aids, except for them having large dicks,” said Demers, mentioning he used that same line at this particular show in which a “large biker man” was offended by the joke and approached the stage, dropping his pants and exposing his penis to Demers in an attempt to disprove his joke.
“How did I get into comedy? Well, I bought these fake hearing aids,” chuckled Demers, when asked in an interview after the show. “I feel as though I need to joke about my hearing aids, or else people will just sit there and wonder.”
Demers also answered that he comes up with his jokes by just thinking actively throughout his day and jotting down his thoughts, then testing them out on stage.
Demers concluded, “I like that I have a job where I make people laugh and smile and I know that’s corny but it’s special and I’ll take it.”