Fringe Preview 2018 – ASPERGERS: a tale of a social misfit

Another day, another preview post for the OTTAWA FRINGE! Really, aside from electing a cut-rate crimeboss as our premier, it’s a great time to be alive in Ottawa! As evidence of why, here’s a look deeper into another upcoming Fringe premiere.

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ASPERGERS: A TALE OF A SOCIAL MISFIT is the creation of Adam Schwartz, a Winnipeg-based stand-up comedian. Adam has been slinging jokes on stage for 7 years now, and is a regular performer at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival. He’s also on the spectrum, hence the title of his current show, delving into the trials and tribulations of living with Asperger’s, and trying to talk to girls at the same time.

“Having Autism I have suffered from self-delusion so when people laughed at me in high school I thought it meant I was hilarious and that I would make thousands of dollars as a stand-up comedian,” Adam recalls, noting he only went to his first open mic night “…after butchering a three minute comedy set I was supposed to do for a voice and diction class that I was part of.”

Now, I’m a bit of a dummy, and my knowledge of Aspergers begins and ends with Abed on COMMUNITY. I asked Adam how much of the show was intended as a ‘statement’ on Autism, and he didn’t hesitate with the answer.

“A statement on its own is useless. People turn off if you are lecturing or talking at them about autism,” he explained, “…The fact that I am performing is the biggest statement I can make. That yes, people with Autism have challenges, but, yes, we can be funny and do most things other people can.”

Having fond memories of Fringe great Alan Shain in UNDER THE RADAR back in 2009, cracking audiences up from his wheelchair, I’m stoked to see a brand new face in Ottawa challenging the ideas of what comedy is and where it can come from. “All of my jokes are meant to be funny.,” Adam says simply, “…Most of my jokes are about autism. My jokes are things like job interviews for people with Autism are like choose your own adventure stories, in that no matter what path you go down, you die. Which is supposed to get laughs but its also true that people with Autism have trouble with job interviews so hopefully people will go away talking about how funny the joke is, while, it subtly sneaks in that they have learnt something about people with Autism.”

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Photo credit – Dave Lipnowski

Sneaky is good, and funny is even better. But how does Adam feel about being one of the few Fringe performers openly ‘on the spectrum’?  “Being openly autistic is great” he admits, “…I have an excuse for being socially awkward. Otherwise people would be like “Adam why did you say that? That’s a highly inappropriate question.” Instead, I get, oh that’s just Adam he’s got Autism.”

And now he’s making me me wish I had a better excuse for MY social awkwardness, but of course, this is about action, not excuses. “I am so lucky to be given a chance to change perspectives and show autism in a positive light,” Adam says, though I suspect that once his show arrives we’re gonna be the lucky ones. He’s already got solid reviews behind him from Edmonton last year, will be touring this show next to Toronto and Winnipeg (and Edmonton, again), and even has some pretty sweet merch! He’s written a book, “I have Aspergers so I’m better than you. Shh… don’t tell mom” and yes, he’s bringing copies for you and me to snap up.

All in all, this show sounds like a true Fringe original, although Adam knows that even though his unique comedic take might get people in the door, “…I have to back it up by putting on a good show.” I’m betting good money he does that, and then some. ASPERGERS: A TALE OF A SOCIAL MISFIT premieres at Ottawa Fringe at the Arts Court Library on June 15th. Full showtimes and ticket info can be found HERE. Check it out, and I’ll see you around the Fringe, gang,  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin R

PS don’t forget to check out my previous Fringe ’18 preview of The Biscuiteater too!

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