Mike Murray struggled with hearing loss his entire life. After hearing aids failed to work, he began his journey toward hearing with cochlear implants. Never letting life hold him back, Mike began a comedy career, living out a dream that he could not have realized before his cochlear implants. Find out why Mike does not let anything get in the way of achieving his dreams of being a comedian with hearing loss:
“My hearing loss was discovered in a routine hearing test in elementary school; I was immediately placed in speech therapy and had private lip-reading classes. I could hear ‘things and sounds,’ just like a blind person could sometimes see ‘shapes and colors’…I just could not understand those things and sounds. It was as if people were speaking a different language to me.
It was a tough way to grow up and even tougher in school, as hearing aids did not help me (as they simply amplified sounds I could already hear). To make things worse, I had total hearing loss for high frequency sounds. I did have an opportunity to get cochlear implants early on, but was reluctant as I thought ‘what if something better comes along and I am stuck with what I have!’ I did not understand that upgrades were done on the external components at that time.
Ready to take a chance on hearing
By the age of 40 I had very little hearing left and was limited to communicating by paper and pencil, text telephone (TTY) and closed captioning. I was ready to try something new. There was a new doctor in town, so I made an appointment with him. Of all the doctors who saw me, he was the only one who said ‘I can help you.’
After many tests, I was deemed a candidate for a cochlear implant. I researched implant models/companies, and I choose Cochlear simply on the fact they were the first, the largest and most innovative. Plus, all reviews I saw were positive.
At 40, I was implanted with my first Cochlear Implant.
At 41, I was implanted with my second Cochlear Implant on the second side.
I am often asked ‘do they work?’ Well let me tell you this…before I had an implant, when I had a word test (which is when you are in the sound booth and an audiologist says words and it is your job to simply repeat that word), I scored 0 percent. That means I did not get a single word correct in the entire test… After the first cochlear implant, I scored 85 percent correct on the very same test, and after the second implant, I scored 100 percent correct!
The passion for comedy
I always enjoyed watching stand-up comedy and dreamed of performing, but it was not possible, as comedy relies on timing, delivery and vocal variety. I had no variety, as I was just LOUD, ha!
At age 45, I jumped onstage for very first time to do what many people feel is one of the hardest professions; the average age of comedians starting up is about 23. Within my first six months of doing comedy, I placed third in the Catch a New Rising Star comedy contest (with 120 comics) and second place in the Rhode Island Comedy Fest (with 130 comics). At age 47, I won the Rhode Island Comic Throwdown, besting more than 100 comics.
At age 47, I started offering comedy night fundraisers; it quickly grew into Funny4Funds®. Funny4Funds is a comedy night fundraising company that now has five branches throughout New England and has 95 comedians on our team. We have raised $3.7 million for groups and causes, and we are currently working on bringing Funny4Funds nationwide!
With over 650 fundraiser shows in the books, I received a call from a client wishing to do a show to help raise money for free clinics. The call was from a doctor who is involved in the organization. That doctor is none other than Dr. Brian Duff, the man who was confident he could help me hear. Talk about full circle.
On March 30, 2018, we had his fundraiser.
Hearing and never holding back
All my life I have been a ‘go getter,’ and I did not let anything stop me though people sometimes saw differently. My hearing loss was a factor in almost everything, whether it would be jobs, relationships or simply placing an order at a restaurant.
Having my Cochlear Implants (I am bilateral, so I have surround sound!) has made me feel unstoppable. There is nothing I feel like I cannot accomplish. I am no longer dependent on others to make phone calls, to be there to communicate through important meetings/appointments and most importantly, I do not ever have to shy away from simply having a conversation.
Bluetooth® streaming is by far my favorite feature of my Cochlear Implant, as I spend many hours on phone with clients. What is really cool is I have a Jeep Wrangler, in which I take the doors and roof off for the entire spring and summer and can listen to the radio with ease!
I also am an advocate for Cochlear, as I have spoken on their behalf at meetings with potential candidates and have spoken to incoming medical students on the cochlear implant and the great things it can do.
I also do motivational speeches, and here is a quote I base my talk around:
We all have some sort of adversity.
Will it stop you?
Will it move you?
Will it be your excuse?
Will it be your fire?’”