Tom lost his hearing at an early age when he was thrown out of an airplane. Either that or he had a high fever that led to progressive damage to his auditory nerves. Who knows?
He didn't learn sign language or meet any other deaf people until college, and he admits to not feeling a part of the deaf world. "But I'm also not a part of the hearing world anymore, either," he says, "so I'm stuck in the middle."
After earning a photography degree in 1984, he embarked on a long career in journalism and the arts. In July 2016, he got on stage and did standup comedy for the first time as a contestant in the Funniest Person in Rochester contest.
Since then he has performed regularly at open mics around Rochester, N.Y. After performing at Yuk Yuk's in Toronto, he outlasted 15 established comics to win the Who's Got Next comedy competition. He then made his New York City debut in April 2017 at Dangerfield's and the Broadway Comedy Club.
Tom faces steep odds as a deaf person in the hearing standup world, but he is determined to be heard.