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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

A handful of humor

When many people hear the words 'ASL comedian,' their first reaction is, 'Why would I go see that? I don't know sign language.'

But according to Emily Glenn-Smith, a professor of American Sign Language at UB, that's exactly why they should go see Keith Wann, the ASL comedian who is performing at UB on Feb. 6.

'Anyone who is interested in learning more about Deaf culture can learn a lot in a fun, laidback way. He jokes about his experiences growing up with deaf parents,' Glenn-Smith said. 'He is hearing; he performs in ASL and has a ‘voice' interpreter for the signing impaired, so all can enjoy and understand.'

UB'S ASL Club, headed by Glenn-Smith, worked to bring Wann to UB for his first Buffalo performance because it felt the show would be entertaining for everyone.

'ASL Club members and [other] students have seen him on YouTube and think he's hilarious, so we contacted him to see when he'd be available,' Glenn-Smith said.

The club raised money for the event by holding pizza and ice cream socials and selling ASL calendars, as well as tickets to the event itself.

Trisha Zennamo, vice president of ASL club, is enthusiastic about the upcoming show.

'I just think that it is going to be a great experience for any student, teacher, or member of the community to learn more about Deaf culture,' Zennamo said. 'We thought that it might help bring more attention to the Deaf community in the area.'

Many ASL students know of Wann through YouTube videos shown in their classes and are excited that he will be at UB.

'I think it's amazing,' said Deirdre Carter, a sophomore accounting major. 'I'm having my aunt, who's an interpreter, come up and see him with me.'

Glenn-Smith appreciates the response she's gotten from the Deaf community, but hopes to see a diverse crowd there.

John Vallone, a junior chemical engineering major, expressed interest in seeing the show despite having no personal connection to Deaf culture.

'It would be interesting to see how the jokes come off. I'd be curious to see if the humor comes through with the interpreter or if any of it is lost,' Vallone said.

Carter, who is familiar with Wann's comedy, has a different reason for attending.

'I can't wait to see what new jokes he has for us,' she said.

The performance will be held in the Student Union Theater at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the door or by e-mailing the ASL Club at




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