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Sign Language Humour with Gavin Lilley

Saturday 1st July 2023

9am - 5pm

Central London

Workshop Summary

This one-day workshop led by deaf stand-up comedian Gavin Lilley explores the concept of humour within spoken and signed languages and whether it can be efficiently interpreted.

About the Trainer

Gavin has been doing stand-up shows all over the UK and Europe with a fast-growing fan base. He delivers his humour in a variety of sign languages, including BSL and international signing. Having grown up with a love for spoken stand-up comedy, he brings the concept of what is usually a fast-spoken, punchline and innuendo-filled setting to the sign language community.

He recently appeared on ITV alongside the renowned John Bishop and continues to work with him on this very topic.

Learning Objectives

At the end of the workshop, participants will:

Develop an understanding of deaf and hearing humour and explore efficient ways of bringing them closer together.

Gain an insight in how spoken and sign humour works and how to relay this in other languages.

Achieve new standards in translation, conversation, presentation and receptive skills with their own signed language.

Participants will have the confidence to engage in humour and light-hearted dialogue in work settings.

Workshop Content

The workshop is sure to be a lot of fun! We will look at examples of both deaf and hearing humour and discuss strategies on how this would work for the other audience. There will be a range of video material from stand-up comedians and comedy programmes that we will analyse as a group on our journey of discovery. We will particularly look at sign language and how it can be made “funny” through use of complex morphology, syntax and a range of grammatical features.

How important is facial expression and body language when it comes to making people laugh?

How can you explain sound-based humour to deaf people?

The workshop will take a range of formats from pair work, group tasks, receptive and productive exercises and a lot of discussion.

Don’t worry, you won’t be expected to do a stand-up show at the end! (Maybe Gavin will!)

Work Related Aims

Whether you are a hearing or deaf sign language interpreter / translator, this workshop will be sure to benefit your careers in sign language.

You’ll be more confident in recognising signed or spoken humour, innuendos and learn how these can be appropriately translated or interpreted.

This will develop your skills in interaction and understand how to recognise when one wants to lighten the mood in otherwise tense work meetings or presentations.

Entry Requirements

Suitable for TSLI, TSLT, RSLI and RSLT as well Deaf people.  


18 Leather Lane, London EC1N 7SU



Attending this workshop will award 8 CPD points.


BSL Workshop 6-1 (4).png

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