11 Feb 2019

Comedian Joshua Davies bringing Look! I'm Blind to Wgtn Fringe

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:38 pm on 11 February 2019

Joshua Davies was born with a severe case of x-linked Retinoschisis - leaving him completely blind in his left eye, and with very poor vision in his right.

But he hasn't let that hold him back: early next month Josh will perform his one-man comedy show, Look! I'm Blind - shedding a bit of light on growing up with a disability.

It's part of the Wellington Fringe Festival - Josh joined Afternoons to let us know what audiences can expect.

Comedian Joshua Davies

Comedian Joshua Davies Photo: Supplied

Davies says he has a rare version of a rare genetic disorder.

“It basically means that the protein in your eye that makes the retina work doesn’t be produced. So, my retinas – the part of the eyes that convert light into an image – don’t work at all really.”

“I’ve basically had it since I was born when you’re a baby you don’t really have the words to tell people you can’t see so they didn’t really notice until I was about seven or eight months old.”

Davies says its normal for him, having had - more or less - the same vision for his entire life.

He says his parents have always supported him.

“Either through really good parenting, or sort of bad parenting, they let me do what I thought I could do. They way they’ve always put it is that they don’t know what I can see, so they just assume I know what I’m doing.”

Davies says the idea for a comedy show came from making blind jokes with his friends.

“That’s where I sort of found that it was funny and then, when I found out stand-up comedy was a thing, I thought I’d really like to do that.”

“I was too scared to do it for a couple years and when I finally got to it, it was the only thing I could write jokes about.”

He says writing about his own experience is the easiest thing to do.

Having been gigging for around three years, he says the shows mostly go well. Occasionally, however, he has people that come up to him after shows and try make blind jokes to him.

“They see it as a way to get on board with it, and it’s all in good spirit, it’s just they’re usually very drunk by that point.”

On the flipside, he’s had people visually impaired people approach him after shows and say it was good to see something that they don’t often see represented in a funny way.

Davies is completely blind in one eye and has about 15 percent vision in the other. He says it’s enough for him to be able to make his way around and get on stage at shows without help.

However, he’s unable to drive or operate any heavy machinery – and it’s lead to some interesting experiences as a jobseeker.

“Being a blind person without a university degree doesn’t really help you when you’re trying to get jobs.”

“I had a case-worker at WINZ who would always try and inspire me to get work and would tell me about a totally blind guy who he worked with and how he got him a job at Fisher and Paykel where he would screw the plastic lids onto the tumbler in washing machines. That was his job for 40 hours a week for 20 years. And he’d always finish his story to me by saying, ‘you could do that’.”

“I was sort of aiming a little higher, like cleaning the toilets at Macca’s or something.”

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