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Between the Laughter ONF/NFB

Catalogue Number:  NFB537991
Producer:  National Film Board Of Canada
Producers:  Selwyn Jacob, Rina Fraticelli
Directors:  Barbara K. Lee
Producing Agencies:  National Film Board of Canada (Montreal)
Subject:  Arts, Documentary, People With Disabilities
Language:  English
Country Of Origin:  Canada
Copyright Year:  2006
Running Time:  43:17
Closed Captions:  Yes

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Stephen O’Keefe takes to the stage at the comedy club, and soon the audience
is pealing with laughter. But he can't hear their reaction to his stand-up
routine. He was born deaf.

Comedy is an unusual pursuit for someone who is hearing impaired –
Stephen must work as hard on his pronunciation as he does on his material. “Of
course I talk funny…I’m a comedian!” he jokes. Still, the
lawyer-turned-comedian never shies away from a challenge. Capturing footage of
Stephen in the comedy spotlight, at home and at work, Between the
interweaves lively snapshots of a complex but
extraordinary life.

Since receiving a cochlear implant in his early twenties, Stephen is no
longer completely deaf, but it’s a struggle for him to adapt to the new sounds
he hears. Through interviews with family, friends, his comedy coach, doctor
and former teacher, the film explores Stephen’s fierce determination to
succeed. It also reveals some of the unexpected conflicts and pressures of
everyday life, whether it’s being unable to hear his wife on a morning jog or
trying to follow conversations when more than one person speaks at once.

This intimate portrait was shot over a period of nine months. Filmmaker
Barbara K. Lee immerses viewers in the heart of the comedian’s demanding life,
observing him as he spends time with his young son, runs a business with his
wife, prepares to move into a new home, and nurtures his blossoming comedy

Many deaf people can find life to be isolating, but Stephen embraces the
spotlight, choosing to stand out and entertain. This is an inspirational and
humour-filled profile – from life in between comedy acts to the realities of
being caught between a hearing world and a silent one.

Between the Laughter is Barbara K. Lee’s first
documentary. She is a winner of the 2004 NFB Reel Diversity Competition.

Between the Laughter was
produced as part of the Reel Diversity Competition for emerging filmmakers of
colour. Reel Diversity is a National Film Board of Canada initiative in
partnership with CBC Newsworld.

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