On Stage

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Asperger’s Are Us

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The members of Asperger’s Are Us appreciate it when people enjoy their shows, but they’d also like it to be known that the sketch comedy they’ve been generating together off and on since meeting in 2010 isn’t designed to do anything other than make themselves—and other people—laugh.

“It’s about improving people’s standards for comedy,” cast member Noah Britton says of the group that formed after he met New Michael Ingemi, Jack Hanke, and Ethan Finlan at a summer camp for kids on the autism spectrum. He was their counselor, but soon realized they had an affinity beyond sharing bunk space and dealing with a developmental disorder characterized by difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication.

Their weird senses of humor connected, Finlan says, and they eventually decided to form a comedy troupe. They weren’t out to make fun of people with Asperger’s or to prove that people living with it were capable of generating laughter for the masses, but rather to have a good time.

“Everyone always asks, ‘So the point of you guys isn’t to teach everybody that autistic people can be funny?’” Britton recounts during an interview in the 2016 Netflix documentary, the aptly named Asperger’s Are Us. “No. That’s not the point. We’re together because we think we’re funny, and we like what we’re doing and we want it out there.

“We’re not trying to connect with the audience,” he continues. “Our goal is to be funny for our own entertainment. If you enjoy it, that’s wonderful. If you don’t, I’m sorry that you didn’t. If the audience gives you positive reinforcement, that’s awesome. But if they don’t, you get it from succeeding at your goal of being hilarious for your own sake.”

In sketches highlighted during the documentary, it’s clear their satirical and absurdist pieces hit the right notes with more than the cast. While a piece dubbed “Ethan’s Funeral” had a couple of older audience members walking out, others responded well to the short tale of a father explaining fire safety to his son—after pointing out that his brothers and sisters hadn’t been so receptive to his lessons, and were now buried in the basement. “The Brooklyn Plumber,” “Presidential Press Conference,” “Small Claims Court,” and “Razor Blade Testing Facility” also combined clever wordplay with off-the-wall interactions.

When Asperger’s Are Us makes a stop in Bellingham Wed., Aug. 16 at Make.Shift Art Space, a short Q&A after the performance will allow those in the audience to query the troupe about their experiences with autism—or about where they got the ideas for their sketches. Either way, your only directive is to sit back and watch the show. They hope you enjoy it, but it’s not a prerequisite.

UPDATE: It has come to our attention that this show will not take place in Bellingham this week. We will keep update the information if the show is rescheduled.

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