Steve Day: London's only deaf stand-up comic



Add +

London could be the loudest metropolis in the world, but Steve Day, Britian's only deaf stand-up comedian, hears none of the din. He explains what it's like to live in a city without noise.

  • Steve Day: London's only deaf stand-up comic

    Britain's only deaf stand-up comedian, Steve Day (credit: Rob Greig)

  • What’s the sound of London to me? On the street it’s Bob Marley, on the tube it’s The Jam. You see, I lost most of my hearing in my late teens and now I’m about 70 per cent deaf, though sometimes I say I’m 75 per cent. Just to add a bit of glamour.

    The music world stopped for me in 1982, as did most other sound, and what my brain doesn’t get updated about, it simply replays. I’m a one-man Capital Gold. Above ground it feels as though ‘Jammin’ ’ still blasts from every window. Below, I imagine distant echoes and faraway voices boarding faraway trains, though if Paul Weller were to write that now, he’d have to get a rhyme out of ‘District Line suspended – faulty equipment’.

    Ah, the tube. When it runs, I qualify for a Freedom Pass that lets me on for free. I’m not sure why, there’s nothing about being deaf that makes transport any harder, except I can’t hear the announcements and perhaps risk ending up in the sidings at the end of the line where the trains go at night. I always feel, too, that the ticket guy is looking at me thinking: How come he’s got a Freedom Pass, then? What’s the matter with him? So I feel sort of obliged to give value and do a pantomime deaf-bloke impression as I pass, declaiming, ‘I’m coming through now, I have a free pass, I do deserve it – I may not hear the Tannoy and end up in Uxbridge, you know.’

    What my London lacks in sound, it makes up for in noise, in meaningless stuff going on. The constant motion of people and traffic swirls all around me, but I observe it all from my little glass bubble of quietude. It’s a lonely place, but the view is good. It’s calming seeing blackened mice chase each other along the live rail, or Betty Boothroyd hailing a taxi, or pretty faces or badly fitting toupees, or people not realising they’re slaves to their phones, or wanting that slavery rather than risk looking and seeing the world for themselves, without the comfort of noise to distract them. The quiet desperation of a homeless person, or the myopic fools trying to get their 4x4s closer to the school gates.

    There are, in consolation, funny things all around if you look at them right. A bus, with its route marked ‘Chalk Farm – Safeway’ – for those of a nervous disposition, I suppose. Adverts for ‘child psychologists’ – is that small children charging £90 an hour for analysis? The Evening Standard announcing ‘The Queen Mother will be encouraged to walk the last few yards with the aid of a stick’ – cruel but effective.

  • Add your comment to this feature
  • Page:
    | 1 | 2 |

Users say


I saw Steve in York about 2 years ago - it's one of the best stand-up shows I've been to. Totally hilarious, deeply moving and not a shred of maudlin sentimentality. A man who loves his music as well and has no choice about which tunes were stuck in his head. Imagine never, ever being able to get rid of Kylie Minogues I Should Be So Lucky.....


What about John Smith? He is a deaf comedian that uses BSL as his preferred language - see his BeautifulBSL website for more details.


Great thought-provoking story. Thanks. Would also welcome details on Steve's perfomances.

Sally Stacey
Sally Stacey

Hi, Where can i see Steve day perform and does he perform using BSL? Either way doesn't matter. Please let me know. Many thanks