Library hosts free event with comedian and actor CJ Jones
As part of its commitment to bringing diverse programs to all community members, Heights Libraries is pleased to announce a one-night-only performance by internationally acclaimed deaf comedian and actor CJ Jones on Monday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m. Jones' most recent acting role was as Joseph in the Edgar Wright film “Baby Driver.”
Jones will bring his one-man comedy show to the Cleveland Heights Civic Conference Center, at 3130 Mayfield Road, in a special free appearance sponsored by Heights Libraries.
Registration is required for this event. To register, visit www.heightslibrary.org or call 216-932-3600.
For more than 35 years, Jones has been a role model for the deaf community, spreading the message to students and adults alike that being deaf doesn’t make you odd—it makes you unique. His artistry has influenced other deaf actors, comedians and hosts.
Born in St. Louis, Mo., Jones was one of seven hearing children born to deaf parents who communicated in American Sign Language (ASL). At age 7, he was struck with spinal meningitis, and consequently lost his hearing. He attended Missouri School for the Deaf, which teaches in ASL. In this communication-rich environment, he flourished, and transitioned from being a shy hearing boy into a deaf leader. Jones was class president, a Cub Scout, varsity football quarterback, a state pole vault record holder, and valedictorian.
Over his career, Jones has developed three one-man shows and has toured internationally. He co-wrote and directed six classic fairytales for the children’s television series “Once Upon a Sign.” Jones also produced the International Sign Language Theater Festival, which hosted theater artists from the United States, Russia and Mexico.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer this show free of admission due to the generosity of the estate of Shony Long,” said Librarian Ben Gulyas, who is in charge of services and programming for the local deaf and hard-of-hearing community at Heights Libraries’ Coventry branch. Long served as manager of the Coventry branch from 1985 to 1992, and initiated the branch’s commitment to the local deaf community, including a week-long Deaf Expo in 1988 which featured a long list of notable actors, performers and educators from around the country.
“It’s an incredible opportunity for both the deaf and hearing communities to see a well-known and very funny performer,” added Gulyas, “and it offers the hearing community a great way to learn about the deaf experience.”
Heights Libraries’ Coventry branch, at 1925 Coventry Road, offers DVDs, videos, CDs, and magazines for and about the deaf community. The collection includes resources on culture, language, education, and the history of deaf people. The branch also provides a variety of programs for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, including the ASL film series, ASL basics presented by Cleveland SignStage Theatre, and the Deaf Gathering social hour.
Programs can be found online at www.heightslibrary.org and its Deaf Resources page, www.heightslibrary.org/deaf-resources, which includes links to online magazines, local events, language resources, employment and education resources, and organizations serving the deaf community.
Sheryl Banks is the communications manager for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System.