When I heard that Marlee Matlin was a guest on the Comedy Central roast of Donald Trump, I had to watch. Yes, she does a great job, and yes, she is as raunchy as the rest of them.
Jack Jason, Marlee’s male interpreter, has probably not received enough attention in the interpreting community. I can think of a few reasons why. Perhaps he has decided to remain aloof intentionally. Perhaps he has received vicarious shunning as a result of the Deaf community’s ambiguous relationship with Marlee. Neither reason makes Jack less interesting. If anything, it makes him more interesting and speaks volumes about interpreters and our relationship with Deaf folks.
There are two things to watch in the video. First, notice how Jack doesn’t try to voice things that are already visual. I see lots of interpreters try to voice things that are already clear because we feel pressure to add a spoken word to everything. Second, I love the “postmodern” moment when Jack gets replaced by Gilbert Godfrey. I say postmodern because it highlights the comical fragility of language, exposes the subjectivity of the interpreter, and illustrates (even in a staged way) the imminent coming-apart of the interpreting process (see the first blog post on hermeneutics). If that sounds like gobbledegook, then never mind. Just watch the video.