Autism in Comedy, is it ever ok? – 2019-09-18


Is it ever ok to joke about autism? A question that people ask themselves but they don’t tend to ask it out loud. After all what if you offend someone, what if the person next to you is struggling with it themselves? How about if you are the one living it day to day? Then can you joke about it?

We often have a little joke about our little lad and his quirks, sometimes laughing about it helps you get through to day, after all sometimes if you didn’t laugh you would have to cry.

I found a really interesting article on the Guardian website by a comedian called John Williams who is also the owner of a blog called my sons not rainman, where he talks about autism and how it affects his life as a single parent. The blog is co-written and edited with the help of his son.

The article is absolutely  worth a read as it explains how the first time he mentioned his sons autism on stage it caused shock with the audience, how people were not sure if they could laugh or not, and how he has managed to turn that around with the help of his son.

People like him and his son are working towards getting Autism recognised more in society.

The article can be found here

My Son’s Not Rainman: One Man, One Autistic Boy, A Million Adventures by John Williams is published by Michael O’Mara, £7.99. To order a copy for £6.55, go tobookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846.

mysonsnotrainman.com

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4 thoughts on “Autism in Comedy, is it ever ok? – 2019-09-18

  1. you can’t control how people react to a joke but in my experience disability jokes are those jokes were you have to experience it first hand and be comfortable around them to find it funny. Some people aren’t that comfortable being around people with disabilities because they don’t know how to handle it. You also have to relate to the audience, some people just look at the big picture and categorize it with a disability and their first reaction is that they should joke about people with disabilities. It all depends on the listener, like I said you can’t control how people react.

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    • Thank you for your comment, you are right on both counts, if you have experience of it then you are more open to seeing the funny side of it, if you get a group of autism mums together they make jokes all the time about the little quirks and differences their kids have but make the same joke to a mum without an autistic child and its not seen as funny, it could almost be seen as being cruel. The comedian in the interview that the link goes to has a really positive approach to this, he has his son on board he helps write the shows, he helps write and edit the blog and he even introduces the show, this helps an audience accept that it can be ok to joke about these things.

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  2. Yes it is ok to joke about these things. I guess that sometimes there is a fine line between being funny and being insulting and people worry where that line is. My daughter and I do laugh about the way I am, because sometimes it is genuinely funny, and we both see that. I don’t take myself too seriously, and laughter does help e.g. one time I was close to having a bit of sensory overload as I was surrounded by people. I hadn’t said anything to anyone but there was this little baby boy about six to nine months old looking at me. So I tried to smile at him, which resulted in him bursting out laughing, and you know how infectious a babies laughter is. Well, I just couldn’t stop laughing which made him laugh even more and the way I had been feeling prior to this vanished. Laughter helps.

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    • Thanks for your reply, you are right is it a very fine line, I do think that people who don’t have personal experience can feel uncomfortable as they aren’t sure where the line is and don’t want to offend anyone. I love your story about the little baby making you laugh, you are right laughter does help.

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