21st September 2022
A man sporting Afro-style hair and wearing sunglasses, grabs the mic and stands in a relaxed posture ready to make the audience laugh. Seeing how easily he moves onstage, one can hardly notice that the stylish stand-up comedian, Gao Xiang, has any problems with vision.
Gao was diagnosed with the rare eye disease Stargardt at the age of 12. The disorder typically causes vision loss during childhood or adolescence, although in some forms this might become obvious only in adulthood.
The legal definition of blind is a visual acuity of less than 0.05. The 34-year-old Gao's visual acuity is currently 0.02. Although, everything he sees is blurry or hazy, he has been exploring more possibilities of life. Gao has successively done numerous jobs－he has worked in a factory, at a video game company and tried his hand as a marketing planner and a psychological consultant. And two years ago, he decided to become a full-time stand-up comedian.
Many of his jokes are on the difficulties faced by people with the degenerative eye disease and the visually impaired in general. He highlights everyday difficulties such as urban barrier-free facilities with designs that are unfriendly to the visually impaired and the shortage of guide dogs.
Gao has delivered more than 1,200 performances over the past two years.