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Local News Updated: 12 September 2023 13:53 EAT 259 Views | ~ 2 minutes

I Admire Mark Angel and Mama Otis - A Pioneering Kenyan Deaf Comedian Shares His Journey

"My name is Eric Joel Khamadi, and I am hard of hearing," declares Eric, an innovative comedian whose journey to make people laugh has gone beyond boundaries and inspired change. Eric's story emphasizes more on the power of resilience, creativity, and the determination to make a difference.

Born with a hearing impairment, Eric faced challenges from a young age. But it wasn't until 2020 that he discovered his unique talent as a comedian. As he modestly puts it, "First of all, I haven't been a good comedian since 2020." This statement reflects his humility and his continuous quest for improvement.

In June 2020, Eric's life took a turn when his contract ended. Seeking new opportunities, he moved to stay with his father in Kakamega. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic had struck, leaving limited job prospects. "So," he says, "I have been at home doing nothing." It was during this period of uncertainty that he stumbled upon a Facebook group called "Deafies in Drag." Little did he know that this discovery would set him on a positive path.

Comedian Eric Joel Khamadi

The group, "Deafies in Drag," always had Eric in constant laughter. "This was really making me laugh," he recalls with a smile. It was at this moment that he realized the absence of such humor in Kenya. Determination set and Eric embarked on a journey to create comedy, fully aware of his own reservations about his comedic abilities. "Although I'm not very good, I had to try to see if it's enjoyable or not."

Eric's launch of his comedy act addressed a critical issue, the confusion between "bacteria" and "virus" signs in Kenyan Sign Language. Eric explains, "The first comedy I created was about bacteria and virus because those words are signed the same way, and there is no difference." He recognized that this misunderstanding could lead to miscommunication in critical settings, such as hospitals, where the doctor mentions "bacteria" and the interpreter signs "virus." The Deaf patient may automatically think it's a virus. "This is a problem," Eric emphasizes, "so I'm trying to create and educate both hearing and Deaf people for learning purposes."

Eric's journey as a comedian was not without challenges. Initially, he received mixed responses, but his determination remained unshaken. As he began sharing his comedy on social media, people started to laugh, express joy with countless emojis, and encourage him to keep going. "From there, I kept posting, slowly gaining more followers, and people kept motivating me, saying, 'Don't stop, keep doing it.' That's how I kept doing it."

Comedian Eric Joel Khamadi

As a child, Eric never envisioned a future in comedy. It was only during high school that he dreamt of becoming an IT expert. However, his passion redirected his path toward becoming an editor and actor. "My dad and mom are my role models," Eric acknowledges, appreciating the unwavering support of his family.

When it comes to inspiration in the world of comedy, Eric looks up to Mark Angel. In Kenya, Mama Otis stands as his admired figure. Eric's aspirations extend beyond making people laugh; he envisions a future where young talents are nurtured and encouraged to share their gifts. His message to aspiring artists is clear: "Don't waste your talent and die with it. Show the world what you've got, even if you don't receive an award. Your history will be recognized, and you will help young people become comedians, actors, social creators, and more. If you die with your talent without sharing it, the next generation will remain the same."

Eric's story shows that making people laugh and sharing what makes you special can be really powerful. As he continues to break down barriers and inspire change, he reminds us that laughter can bring people from different places together.


Tags: Deaf Pwds Signstv Deaf Awareness Month Markangel