AM I FUNNY? The life and signs of a deaf comedian

Rinkoo Barbaga Press shot for show, “Am I funny The life and signs of a deaf comedian”

Rinkoo is a storyteller / comedian with immense stage presence and a reputation as an emerging stage talent within the deaf community, both in the UK and abroad. The American Comedy Institute said: “Rinkoo Barpaga” is a born comedian and an engaging and daring performer.” The review followed his smash debut as a stand up comedian at The Gotham Comedy Club, New York in 2012. He was in the USA as a result of successfully applying for a “Deaf Explorer” travel grant. The UK’s premier online deaf magazine, The Limping Chicken said: “Rinkoo is one of the most exciting new talents out there, with an original ‘voice’.” Rinkoo also work in the Media, he has worked for Maverick TV,  MTV Europe, BBC and independent companies; frequently filming on location, he also sits on the editing desk of many programmes for deaf audiences. Between 2011 and 2012, working with BBC See Hear and Deaffinity (a charity for the BME Deaf Community in the UK) Rinkoo created the film, ‘Double Discrimination’  a feature documentary for Neath Films about growing up as a Black Asian in Handsworth in the 1980’s that was shown by Film 4.  He is often booked at deaf events to work as a story-teller and emcee. In 2013 he emceed at the Incloodu Festival with over 500 people at Rich Mix Arts Centre, London and at the Sunset Night of deaf talent at the Deaf Cultural Centre Birmingham, to over 100 people.

When talking to Rinkoo, the theory or intention of what he wants to do is always ahead of his practice and skills base, he’s highly ambitious and this is infectious which is why he’s been booked for gigs, and asked to make appearances on Sky’s Asian Channel so early into his artistic journey. Right now he has a new and unique angle, and people want to experience it on stage. There’s a skills gap that Rinkoo wants to address, so he can deliver on his desire to win over hearing and deaf audiences; sustain and grow his stage career, gain regular bookings and build relationships with audiences. His ultimate aim is to make his stories and his storytelling as funny as possible. Hence the wish to work with Birmingham based stand up and Women and Theatre Artistic Director Janice Connelly aka Barbara Nice. They met for a mentoring session for his deaf explorer project, it lasted over 3 hours. Janice has a strong interest in supporting diverse talent. The two jelled, albeit via an interpreter. This unique experience informs Rinkoo’s desire to gain the expertise of the hearing world to help him position better; his writing and performance for a mainstream audience. The weighting towards hearing expertise in the UK, makes his trip to the USA critical because he will meet and share his material with Deaf peers who have no comparable UK counterpart. They include, CJ Jones, Peter Cook, Kieth Wann and John Maucere.

He proposed to Arts Council England to begin his professional development and make  a new show called, “Am I Funny”. The marketing of the tour of the show was a total success, this was undertaken by Deaf Explorer using deaf ambassadors nationally to promote the shows and social media. The show has been booked  by mac Birmingham, following a sell out first night at the mac. There are also further booking in the pipeline, “Am I funny” and the wish to make a new show called “Made in England India”. A title fired by the audience response to Rinkoo Barpaga telling his story in a public space.  There is now a need to tell the story of South Asian Deaf living in the Uk and across the World. The show attracted a large proportion of diverse deaf people.

One review said, “Rinkoo Barpaga who has just delivered a sell out tour of his highly political and heart felt story “Am I funny” – Can a deaf comedian be funny in a hearing world; that reveals with great subtly and humour the inequality deaf people experience in the Uk by comparing deaf peoples lives in the USA, specifically in New York and Washington DC – that we learn stands for deaf city.”

Go see Rinkoo live,  Get the latest on his facebook page

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