ASL comedian “Wink” performs at Kean

By Kiara Mays | Published Nov. 28, 2017

WINK! Credit: Kiara Mays

WINK! Credit: Kiara Mays

Windell “Wink” Smith Jr. performed a 90-minute comedy show in American Sign Language (ASL), in which he shared his experience growing up as a hearing Child of Deaf Adults (CODA), among other topics, at Kean University’s Little Theater Nov. 10.

Growing up as a CODA, Wink now shares his passion with the world by traveling across the United States full time, promoting ASL, Deaf rights, and his comedy shows. Aside from that, he also tours the US presenting his workshops, known as “Winkshops.” A few attendees shared their thoughts about his Kean performance.

“I thought it was awesome,” said Kiara McCall, senior, business management major at Kean. “I love seeing the Deaf and the hearing community come together.”

While the crowd consisted mostly of students currently learning ASL, there were some Deaf and hearing impaired attendees as well. For those who knew little to none of the language there was Kiva Bennett, Wink’s voice interpreter. All of that is to say, no one was excluded from the event.

“It was amazing,” said Kelly Seylaz, an ASL deaf studies major at Union County College. “I thought it was funnier than I thought it was going to be.”

Wink (Center) with two attendees after his comedy show at Kean University. Credit: Kiara Mays

Wink (Center) with two attendees after his comedy show at Kean University. Credit: Kiara Mays

Wink made sure his show was not only funny, but also a learning experience. Through a crowd incorporated rendition of the classic game “Telephone,” in ASL of course, Wink was able to showcase just how difficult learning the language could be, but how just as rewarding it could be as well.

Unlike Kiara McCall, who took up an interest in ASL and the Deaf community after watching ABC Family’s “Switched at Birth,” Hannah Friedman, senior and public relations major, had a more personal reason for doing so.

“Yes, my uncle is deaf,” said Friedman, whose mother is also a sign language interpreter. “I became interested in ASL through my parents, family members, and figuring out a way to communicate with my uncle.”

Alnae Bailey and Nicole Henriques, however, held similar viewpoints in regards to Wink’s performance.

“It was great,” said Bailey, senior, special education major and ASL minor at Kean.

Henriques “loved” the show as well, as she recalled taking an ASL course back in high school.

For those who’ve never attended a comedy show, much less a comedy show performed in ASL, “My Father’s Gift,” was nothing short of incredible.

For more information on upcoming shows and events, visit his official website at or follow him on most social media platforms @Winkasl.

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