Monthly Archives: March 2012

Laughing For Sight

As well as working in the Los Angeles office of Descriptive Video Works, I also perform stand up comedy and last night I did a 10 minute set at the Ice House in Pasadena. I stepped onstage and the powerful spotlights made it impossible to see any of the audience. I immediately felt in my own bubble and disconnected from the people sitting watching me. It is disorientating and challenging to connect to people when you can’t see anything beyond the stage. Yet that is what New York comic Brian Fischler faces on a nightly basis. Brian, an accomplished writer and stand up comedian, began losing his vision at 12 and has been legally blind since 2000, having lost the majority of his vision in the last four to five years.

A friend of mine from Women In Film invited me to come along with some other members to watch Brian perform at the Improv, Hollywood for the benefit Laugh For Sight, http://www.laughforsight.com. Knowing first hand how hard it is to perform stand up, let alone perform without being able to see, I was incredibly humbled by his bravery, courage and impressed by his ferocious wit.

Laugh For Sight is an annual Comedy benefit organized by Brian that supports vision charities. The event in Hollywood was hosted by Jenna Elfman and included performances by comedians Bill Burr, Greg Fitzsimmons, Pablo Francisco, Kevin Nealon, Christopher Titus, Daryl Wright, Russell Peters and of course Brian.

Laugh For Sight is a national non-profit organization located in New York City that is focused on raising funds and public awareness for retinal degenerative eye diseases-specifically retinitis pigmentosa, Stargardt’s disease and macular degeneration. The company, founded by Brian, held it’s first event in Beverley Hills in 1999 that benefitted The Foundation Fighting Blindness. Laugh For Sight is known for having incredible line ups of the biggest names in stand up comedy and the event at the Hollywood Improv was no exception, the line up was phenomenal and the comedy inspiring.

The comic Greg Fitzsimmons recorded a podcast from the Imrov and interviewed many of the comics who performed. To listen please follow the link:

http://www.gregfitzsimmons.com/2012/03/12/burr-nealon-and-pablo-join-me-for-a-benefit/

Brian’s blog, The Blindgator’s Weblog, is a keenly observed, wonderfully informative peek into his life of stand up comedian in the City That Never Sleeps. Giving tips on apps and insight into his daily adventures across the city. To read, please follow the link http://blindgator.wordpress.com/

Women in Film members with Brian at the Laugh for Sight event in Hollywood.

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Running Blind

Despite considering myself pretty fit, I would draw the line at my fitness extending to the ability to race, think and talk all at the same time. I just met a remarkable woman who is about to do all of the above and with the added challenge of keeping pace with another runner to boot!

Hillary Bibicoff is running 6 and a half miles of the LA marathon on Sunday alongside a blind runner. Holding onto a rope with a carabiner on each end, Hillary and Mexican athlete Martin will run a portion of the marathon together. With about 10 inches between them, it’s essential that Hillary matches his pace and guides, without pulling him forwards…or backwards!

Running with Achilles, (http://www.achillesinternational.org) Hillary, wearing an orange guide shirt, essentially becomes a part of Martin’s equipment. Not only does she sync her pace with his, she also describes the scenery as they run. As well as mentioning practical points, such as upcoming water stations and restrooms, she also describes the buildings and the terrain…Pointing out LA landmarks as they go.

Sensitive to the challenges of modern life with visual impairment, as Hillary’s vision at -10 means that without contact lens she herself finds it tricky to see clearly, this is the second time she has guided Martin in the LA marathon.

Flying in from Mexico City for the race, Hillary met him for the first time the morning of the marathon 2 years ago, not having had a chance to train together before hand, and they were off!  This year Hillary will guide the 2nd leg of the race, taking over from a couple of other runners who will be starting with Martin.

Having been a long distance runner since high school, and participating regularly in 10k and half marathons, Hillary herself is no stranger to the track; standing her in good stead for being able to run and talk simultaneously. She loves being a part of the excitement of the marathon, and despite a storm forecast to be arriving in LA tomorrow Hillary remains upbeat and excited about event.

As well as being a partner in a prestigious law firm, horse back riding, skiing and running, Hillary is also the Secretary of the Board of Directors at Women In Film. A really inspiring woman who I’m lucky to have had the fortune of running into recently!

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