By Jean F. Andrews
C. J. Jones from Los Angeles, California, performed for 150 Lamar University students, faculty and community members last week in Beaumont, Texas. C.J. used visual storytelling, American Sign Language, mime, and audience participation to “bring down the house” with humor, laughter and heart-warming stories about his youth and early adulthood. C.J. told the audience he was born in a world with a “double-whammy” being both Deaf and African-American. But he did not dwell on the negative impact of discrimination and oppression, which he no doubt was subjected to. Siting in the front and center of the audience, what hit me was C.J.s enormous capacity for inclusion. He not only pulled in the CART reporters and the sign language interpreters into his comedy routine, he also pulled in his family in his stories. He then pulled in the adults in the audience who did not know sign language as he invited them to the stage and he gave them a quick and humorous crash course in ASL. He did the same with children. C.J. left the audience laughing “in stitches,” with inspiration and hope to realize one’s potential whatever circumstances come one’s way. C.J. is not only is a comedian, but he also is an actor, producer and runs two businesses. He has a company, Sign World TV which employs both Deaf and hearing people.
C.J. Jones performance in Beaumont was part of Deaf Awareness Week. To learn more about C. J. Jones and his work, visit www.cjjoneslive.com
Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.