(APPLAUSE) Sorry, I’m nervous, it’s my first time. Okay, I’m Tom. I’m Deaf, and no, I don’t read lips. Please stop asking me that. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) Everybody asks me that. It’s alway the first thing people say. “Hi, I’m Tom.” “Do you read lips?” (AUDIENCE GIGGLING) No, I don’t read lips. And guess what? Nobody reads lips. (AUDIENCE CHUCKLES) It’s all a big hoax. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) People have been pulling your leg making you think deaf people read lips. We don’t. (AUDIENCE CHUCKLES) And the reason why is because reading lips is impossible. The English language has more than one million words, and people talk at 60 words per minute. And I’m supposed to be able to understand all that… (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) Just from this little bitty boop boop boop? (AUDIENCE GIGGLES) No… To be honest with you, I don’t even know if you’re talking to me or chewing gum. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) “What? What did you say?” (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) “Nothing, I’m chewing gum.” “Oh, sorry.” Then later, the same person comes up to me. “Tom, we have to get out of here. “The place is on fire.” And I’m looking and I’m thinking, “Wow, is that still the same piece of gum?” (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) “That’s some good gum.” (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER)

I can lipread when I already know what you’re going to say. If my coffee cup is empty and you come up with a pot of coffee, I’m going to be able to figure it out. But it’s when people come up to me out of the clear blue, I don’t know who they are, I don’t know what they want, lipreading doesn’t help. So I have to be looking for other clues to help me understand. For example, somebody might come up to me and, blah blah blah. And I’m looking and looking, and I notice, wow, this person is tall. I’m not used to having to look up when I talk with someone. Maybe that’s it! Maybe he’s asking me to join his Tall Guy’s Club. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) Or someone comes up to me and, blah blah blah. And I’m looking and looking and I notice, wow, this person is not dressed very well. Striped shirt, plaid pants, nothing fits… Maybe that’s it! Maybe they’re asking me for fashion advice. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) Or someone comes up to me on the street, and pulls out a knife, and blah blah blah! I’m looking and I’m thinking, and I remember, cooking students carry their own knives. Maybe that’s it. Maybe he’s asking me where’s the culinary school at. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER)

So, there’s a lot of guess work involved. But I’m pretty good at it. And now, I’m a lifetime member of… Tall Gentlemen of America. (AUDIENCE CHUCKLES) And I do a little fashion consulting on the side. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) And I got mugged. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) Yeah, it’s not a perfect system. That’s why it’s called “guess work.” (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER AND CLAPPING) I guess my time is up, so I’m going to wait until next time to teach you the dirty signs. Thank you. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) (APPLAUSE)

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