Aspergers on I don’t have ADHD but sometimes it feels like it.

Posted: December 6, 2012 in aspergers, comedy, entertainment
Tags: , , , ,


One of the common characteristics of Aspergers is the inability to block out unnecessary information which leads to sensory-overload. Having to deal with all of this information can be extremely distracting and probably feels the same as ADHD, which has led to people with Asperger’s being misdiagnose.d Some people with Aspergers avoid going anywhere where there is really loud noise because all of the stimulus can be overwhelming and make them feel sick afterwards. I am fortunate, unlike many people with Aspergers that I am able to deal with this stimulus; otherwise I would not be able to do stand-up comedy. Looking out on the audience when I am on stage can often make it very difficult to focus on the joke I am telling if I have not planned it well in advance. I will start telling a joke and then suddenly be like huh, that guy has a nice baseball cap, wow that girl in blue is pretty. Hmm, why isn’t that guy in the second row second from the left laughing. I wonder if I can win him back. Some people you can’t win over because there is something else going on in their lives that they are distracted about or they are just tired. Then again, comedy is subjective so I can’t be everyone’s cup of tea. I can also be completely thrown off when two people are having a conversation during my set.  They don’t think that they are doing anything wrong because they are being quiet, therefore, it shouldn’t affect the comedians set. However, unlike many comedians, I have a harder time focusing and tuning out the unnecessary sensory information.

Receiving all of these stimuli is a double-edged sword when I am performing. On one hand, it forces me to interact with the crowd more than other people and a crowd that is involved; is usually a happy crowd who enjoys themselves.  On the other hand, receiving all of this information makes it harder to focus on the material that I have written. At times, when I am trying out a new joke the sensory information can be overwhelming and make me forget how the joke I have written for the show goes. Therefore, when I focus on the message I am trying to get across I sound like I am reading the joke off of a page and it looks extremely awkward and wooden. Stand-up comedy often is not about telling jokes but is about sharing observations or insights. Therefore, if you are drawn out of the moment because you have to focus on the joke, you often run the risk of alienating the crowd. Many comedians can actually bring their notebook up onto stage to remind themselves of how a new joke goes and still come off as more natural than I do with a joke that I have been working on all weekend. As a result, I generally try to keep my jokes simpler and shorter than comedians who are able to go up there and tell whole stories. I also leave out doing funny voices for my jokes because it is just another tangible to focus on, and when you are already stretched thin, something has to go.  Even then, in the end, after coming off stage I often realize that there were several jokes or tags that I wanted to tell but simply being up there led me to being so distracted that I cannot remember them.  I am not going to say having Aspergers is a hindrance to stand-up comedy, but it definitely plays an important role in shaping who I am as a comedian.


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