The Gift of Deafness

by | Jan 20, 2017

I had always wanted to go to a comedy show. But I could never go because they could not provide an interpreter or a captioner. If I went to a comedy show without an interpreter, I’d miss all the jokes.

So I had given up on the idea of ever attending a comedy show.

All but forgotten.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Until this young woman suggested an idea.

We were at a chapter meeting of the Hearing Loss Association of America, a non-profit advocacy organization that served local deaf communities all over the U.S. I was a newsletter editor and board member at the time.

She said, “why don’t we set up a group event at the comedy club with a captioner? We can pool our money to pay the captioner.”

I was in a rush, carrying a pile of books and papers, and my iPhone was vibrating insistently in my pocket.

“Sure, I’ll think about it,” I said hurriedly.

I must have been a little dismissive, judging from the crestfallen look on her face.

But, a little while later, the wheels that hadn’t turned in my head for years, began turning again.

Then it hit me.

What a great idea this was!

This could be a once in a lifetime opportunity for many deaf and hard-of-hearing people, myself included.

At the next board meeting, I lobbied for a group event at a local comedy club.

After some hand-wringing over our tiny budget, I was given the green light to organize one. I asked the comedy club if I could host a group event with a batch of discounted tickets.

They said yes.

So I wrote my first ad: a simple flyer.

I planned to sell about 25 tickets.

Three weeks before the event, I blasted it through the email newsletter. I trumpeted it on Facebook.

Almost instantly, my inbox began blowing up.

Email after email, each asking for a seat at the event. Any time I finished replying to one email, two more would pop into my inbox.

I started worrying about selling too many tickets. I asked the club how much space they had and if they could hold more seats for us. They reassured me they’d have plenty of space.

I sold four times more tickets than I expected to sell.

The comedy club actually increased their maximum capacity by making the stage smaller and adding more chairs. Despite their best efforts, the comedy club had to turn a few people away because it still was over capacity.

The whole room was in deep guttural laughter for two hours straight. Nonstop.

A projector was mounted on the wall behind the stage. Words scrolled on the projector as the captioner furiously typed on the keyboard, barely keeping up with the show’s rapid-fire pace.

After the show, an elderly woman, exhausted from laughing, came up to me in tears. She thanked me profusely for the once-in-a-lifetime experience, saying she had never been to a comedy show before in her life.

She squeezed her arms around me in a heartfelt hug.

I would be lying if I said my own eyes didn’t get misty. It was only then I realized how much impact two hours of laughter had on many people’s lives, including my own.

But How Did I Sell So Many Tickets?

I was utterly shocked how well my flyer did.

To me, it seemed nothing special. Less than 250 words. I was straightforward in my writing without trying to get cute or clever with words.

Some people at the comedy club suggested I should become a copywriter.

I was perplexed at such a suggestion. I was a software developer… not a writer.

Still, I couldn’t resist thinking about it.

To satisfy my curiosity, I read books from the greatest copywriters to ever walk this planet: Joseph Sugarman, David Ogilvy, and Gary Halbert to name a few.

A funny thing happened as I read these books (among other fantastic business books to date).

I started to understand why my comedy show copy worked so well:

I intimately understood the target market, genuinely felt their pain, and gave them a unique opportunity to fill their unmet need. Top that off with a sense of urgency and —BOOM! Off the tickets went.

Why Is Deafness a Gift?

Being deaf is a strength when writing copy. Noise does not pollute my mind.

What I do is I turn off my hearing aids. No distractions. 

I become focused enough to block everything else out and produce my very best writing. When I work on a project, it has my undivided attention. It is the only thing on my mind at that moment. I put full focus, unshakeable commitment, and meticulous effort into the work I do, and it shows.

My surroundings could be burning down in a fire, and I’d still be focused on what I’m doing.

OK, I’m probably exaggerating a little… at least I hope so, for my own sake!

Naturally, with my background in technology such as blockchain, clean energy, and software, and with lots of writing practice, I became a copywriter and started my business in 2015. After freelancing for four years, I expanded my business into an agency.