Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Finding the Humor in Autism

From Huffington Post's Todd Drezner, who has recently directed his first documentary film, "Loving Lampposts: Living Autistic," and he is also the father of Sam, an autistic child. The title of the film refers to the circuit of lampposts that Drezner’s son likes to visit in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, N.Y.

An autistic guy walks into a bar.
If you haven't yet heard a joke that begins with that line, it may only be a matter of time. Over the last couple of months, autism has suddenly become a popular subject for comedy. In an earlier post, I suggested that autism was having its cultural moment as a subject of fascination for filmmakers, writers and other artists. But the examples I cited then all treated autism with the seriousness most people feel it deserves. Can autism and comedy actually mix?
The short answer is, of course they can. Ever since Mark Twain sent Huckleberry Finn south on the Mississippi River with the slave Jim, humorists have been pushing boundaries and getting away with saying shocking things by saying them in funny ways. If race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and obesity are all acceptable topics for humor, there's no reason that autism and disabilities in general should be exempt.

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