Archive for the ‘entertainment’ Category

Recently, I was offered an oppertunity to be a regular contributor to the Jewish post. The articles for the newspaper will have to be tighter, shorter and more succinct than the ones I will be writing for here. I have had lots of fun writing on here about anything that has crossed my mind and from post to post the topics have been quite sporadic as I write about whatever I feel like letting my brain take me whichever direction it wanted to go as it was as free in the wind, while for the newspaper it will be much more focused as I will have to take one topic and write as much as possible on it, thus making the transition easier to follow. For that reason, I will still try to keep this blog up as an outlet of letting my creativity just flow out, which has allowed me to afterwards cherrypick the posts for stand-up comedy material. I have always had a hard time writing comedy material for its own sake, but, a blog usually has a point or a story which I am trying to tell; and therefore, are much easier to write. Also, blogs provide less pressure to be funny because they don’t need to be a laugh-a-minute. A perfect example, is this blog which is really, really, not that funny at all.

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These are not in any particular order.
1. Libraries are a place of order. Unlike the rest of the world which is chaos, libraries organize information by subject, author and year. There is no reading between the lines for information like there is in the rest of life.
2. I feel like a computer expert when I am able to answer computer questions, like how do I book a computer. Where can I find a computer with microsoft word. (Although, there are some times that I can’t figure out how to fix the computer or format on microsoft word but these questions are few and far between.)
3. Libraries are quiet and never give me sensory overload which sometimes happens in unknown crowded places. Especially when I am very hungry or tired.
4. There are always people to watch who never end up letting me down with their off-the-wall antics. Therefore, it is a good place to learn about human behaviour and what to do and what not to do in social interactions.
5. It is a good place to read the newspaper and catch-up on the daily going-ons.
6. There is usually treats to eat in the staff room.
7. I get to learn about where a good place to nap is from the professionals. These people are amazing they can fall asleep anywhere anytime and they usually choose to do it at the library.
8. I learn how to deal with rude people or hecklers as I like to think of them. This is good training for when you are on stage performing comedy.
9. There is time for day dreaming or analyzing social interactions and kicking yourself for them not going well.
10. Finally but not leastly, I am able to check out books, cds and DvDs in a convenient location for free.

It is interesting, that the best blogs that I have found so far on the topic of Aspergers, have all been written by a mother of someone with Aspergers. For some reason, they have much a clearer perspective about what is going on with us and the challenges we face and are much more eloquent when talking about them than most of us could do ourselves. Is it because our mothers love us more than we could ever love ourselves and they see our strengths and weaknesses much more clearly, while, we only focus on our temporary setbacks and can’t see the trees for the forest?
Or is there another factor at play? There is the fact, that they are, by definition much older. In addition, they have experienced their own childhood so they have something to compare ours too. They see what seems to be serious challenges because they are different from those in, their own childhood which often enough does not include Aspergers. Do not get me wrong, there are many mothers who have blogs which are well-written and also have Aspergers; but, the ones I follow the closest such as the brilliant blog written by Alice Hendley do not. Therefore, they know what it is like to go on dates and how most of the outside world thinks and are able to compare that to their children’s experiences with Aspergers.
The answer could be the result of a countless number of other factors such as to name a few one, most of the blogs by parents are by mothers and maybe women are simply better writers. I reject, this hypotheses out of hand but there could be truth to it. To name another reason, it could be that people with Aspergers don’t want to let our disability define us as much as it truly does. Therefore, I may choose to associate myself as a comedian with Aspergers. Being a parent of a child with Aspergers is much more of a choice if you are liberal and are on the left with your politics. Parents have choices such as abortion or adoption, therefore, they have more choice over their identity than someone simply born one way or another.

So I was talking to this girl on eharmony, for awhile and we finally arranged a meeting date at Rumors comedy club. Hold on, that’s not a way to start a story. Let’s try that again.
Once on a mildly chilly night in late January, I had arranged a date with a girl who I assumed could be my soulmate. We had talked a few times online and there seemed to be a deep powerful connection there. As if we had been soulmates in another life. (Now that is a way to start a story!!) Due to the craziness of my busy schedule after arranging the date I had forgot to book in advance (forgot, phew more like didn’t even think about it.) Therefore, I was waiting in the dank entrance to the basement that is the hallway to Rumors, hoping to get in or at least hoping we would be able to get coffee. I had spent a whole, 15 minutes prior getting ready for this exciting moment. However, I ended up waiting for naught as she never showed.
I was okay with it I figured the night is still young and I am looking hot, having had my sister-in-law come over and help me pick out my outfit and gell my hair like a pro. I figured, the world owes me a little excitement after I put in all this hard work and had this minor-setback. If only a drunken make-out session with a girl. Her drunk, as I still needed to drive home after all. So I headed, over to my buddy’s house where we set the mood for excitement by playing a little Megaman 9. After a two-hour struggle, I finally beat one of the bosses which seemed to suggest that it was a good omen for the evening ahead. After this victory we headed to a social. The tickets were 20 dollars but I figured small price to pay for the adventure ahead. After meeting up with some more buddies, I figured now the fun will begin. Then we watched the auctioneers announce the winner.
Getting antsy at this point, I was like I will settle for anything a phone number, a cute girl flirting with me, anything. After all universe you owe me.
Final synopsis, nothing, and I mean nothing came of this party where it seemed like every girl there in the right age range, had a boyfriend or a husband. Turns out, the universe does not care or feel that it owes me anything. The world does not always close a door to open up a window and not everything happens for a reason. Sometimes bad things don’t come along so an even greater thing can happen.

It looks like there are many bright days ahead for future generations of people on the Autistic Spectrum.
Growing up there were few role models in the mainstream media to look up to. Every other minority had someone it felt like other than people with Autism. I mean, yeah we had Temple Grandin, but that isn’t someone children will find as glamorous as say Mario Lemieux, Tyra Banks or even Stephen Hawkins. Temple, if you ever read this by some chance of reading everything that even mentions your name, I am sorry but its true. Over the last 12 years, however, all of that has changed.
Darryl Hannah the actress from from Kill Bill, Dan Ackroyd have both come forward in interviews and told the world that they had Aspergers in the last five years and even more recently so did the Miss America candidate from Montana. In addition, one of the glamorous candidates from the next top model also came forward stating that she had Aspergers. The top surfer in the world Clay Marzo also has Aspergers. Having all of these incredible people stepping forward will do many things for the autistic community. First, it will make it easier for people to come forward with their own announcements that they are on the spectrum. It will create a desire in many people to learn more about Autism which will only help especially since there are many great blogs such as Emma’s Hope Book and Life and Ink, recounting people’s lives and the lives of loved ones adventures with Autism, fiction books with autistic main characters, and non-fiction books detailing how life can be made better for these individuals by writers such as Rudy Simone. Stand-up comedians telling jokes and writing plays about the disability. In addition, it will also give future generations something that I did not have; role models to look up to and aspire to be like. Someone that they can relate to, who is just like them so that they don’t feel like such beautiful freaks.

That is a really weird confession to be making after doing stand-up for over three-years but I really am not sure whether I get comedy or not. There have been times when another performer has told jokes and the audience has loved them and yet due to being to literal I am left scratching my head, why what I just watched went over so well. For example, another local comedian has this joke where he does an impression of the Canadian flag. Every single time he has done the joke the audience has absolutely adored it. I on the other hand was waiting for the traditional set-up followed by a punchline. My literal brain is like that does not look at all like a flag, why is so funny? I have over time become a fan of the joke just because it is so goofy and fun but on the other hand I really did not get it. There have been countless jokes told in the local community or that I have seen on television that have left me scratching my head on what was so darn funny about what I had just seen.
This trait is not exclusively about others, however, as there are jokes that I tell that still leave me unsure why the joke went over so well with the audience. For example, I have a joke about not being the smartest tool in the shed, which is an old metaphor, and then saying I am sort of like a rake. At the time it was simply a toss-away joke and I never gave it too much thought about why it was funny until it went over really really well. Therefore, I have told it over and over again and yet I still do not know why the joke is funny but keep using it because every time I have told it, the audience has seemed to love it. Really, I like many people with Aspergers am too literal minded which has got in the way of my having written many more jokes at this point than I currently have. On the other hand the pure randomness of how I view the world and the things that confuse me is devoured by the crowd as hilarious. This is not something I can count on, however, because when I go up with the strategy of just talking about my confusion about life and it does not follow any kind of stand-up pattern this strategy often backfires as the crowd does not enjoy it.
All of this simply leaves me with the realization, that I in fact do not know how stand-up comedy works. I enjoy stand-up comedy but I don’t truly understand it. Therefore, sort of keep it at an arms-length distance, which is the same relationship that I have with the rest of the world created by NTS.

My life has definitely been interesting, I mean for a long time I was in denial of the fact that I was an Aspie. However, doing stand-up comedy made me feel like I could be a real force for educating people about Aspergers and that I was born with it for this specific purpose. After reading dozens of blogs, and seeing that there are in fact many more books written on the topic I am now questioning this role. I mean many of the blogs I have written are much more articulate than anything I could have written and if there are already several books on the topic than I am not exactly breaking ground, striding towards a new frontier and going where people with Aspergers have not gone before.

So where does that leave me, I mean there are few stand-up comedians with Aspergers so for the people who don’t read I do have an opportunity. For how long, I don’t know, because if there is one thing I have learnt about the Asperger community; it is that there is no barrier that they won’t eventually be able to overcome. Therefore, I have to take advantage of my brief window. My book deal that I envisioned coming from this blog may take awhile to happen and may not happen at all due to all the great writer/advocates on the topic. I may have to change the idea so that it is more about Aspergers from the perspective of a stand-up comedian than just Aspergers in general. The number of books coming out on the topic may in fact be a boon making people curious about the topic which comedy can cater to.
There is no way of predicting the trends, therefore, in the end all I can do is keep doing what I am doing.
Therefore, I begrudgingly say good luck to Jodi Carmichael the author of the new local Asperger book “Spaghetti is not a Finger Food”.
spaghetti

It’s been a tense couple of weeks as a result of weeks for the Asperger community. So to remind everyone of how hilarious Aspergers can still be I posted this video.

1 Day until the lottery. That’s one sleep, one and half shifts of work (tomorrow’s and this one) and then I will know whether I get to be in the Fringe Festival this upcoming year.

There are so many fears running through my head. What if my number doesn’t get picked? I already had one bad dream about this. What if it was really an omen? While then it means I will have to wait another year before I can do a show about Aspergers. Why is it so important that I do the show? It will raise awareness, challenge perceptions people have, of people with Aspergers. Maybe seeing the show it will make people view Aspergers and the people with it differently. Hopefully, it will raise my status in the comedy community and people will start booking me more for gigs for people with disabilities. Hopefully it will mean more people will start reading my blog and that will raise the status of the cause as well as my own status as a performer.

What if, however, having watched my show, people are not more conscious and people walk out still indifferent or negative thinking about Aspergers. Will my show have been a failure? Is it too much to expect that one show can make a huge difference? I mean attitudes take a long time to set in and once someone has made up their minds it is hard to change them. Can I really consider my show a success, however? Won’t it be the exact same as all the other shows out there that just entertain? If so, why is it so important to me to do a show? I mean, yes, I imagine it will be fun, but it will also be lots of hard-work and anxiety about whether or not people enjoyed it. Also whether or not people will come to the show and whether or not I will make back my original investment of $700 dollars. There is many other ways I could spend that money, which may give me as much joy.

I could also go on a week-long vacation for the same amount of money which would extremely relaxing.

For $700, I could buy myself a video game and use the rest of the money to invest.

If I was really so concerned with making a big difference, I could donate the money.

I could buy families who need them 14 chickens and 7 goats which would provide support for a family for a long time. These gifts would also be self-sustainable for a whole village.

I could buy 100 ducks.

10 shares of a dairy cow.

2 oxens and a plow, and a pig. 

Send 10 orphans to school for a year.

(courtesy worldvision.org)

A round-ticket to New York City $702 (according to Google).

Or even pay rent for one month, if I moved out of my parents place and found somewhere to go.

Instead I am spending it on a show, which it is possible no one will attend. It is unlikely, since I have paired up with the popular, Chantal Marostica, but it is possible.

In addition, since I have not mentioned it anywhere else, I have always wanted to be in the Fringe after seeing other successful shows and hoping one day it could be me.

 

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.