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Winnipeg Fringe Festival 2013 Preview - Aspergers; a Tale of a Social Misfit

by Jane Enkin, July 9, 2013

Aspergers; a Tale of a Social Misfit
July 18 – July 27, 2013
Venue #3 -The Playhouse Studio 180 Market Ave. - Entrance on Main St
Recommended For Mature Audience
Length: 45 mins.
Tickets: $9
Discount Tickets: $8 for Students, Seniors
Under 11 not admitted.

I just had the great pleasure of meeting Adam Schwartz. He presents himself as “a local stand-up comedian with Aspergers trying to take ownership of Aspergers.” Schwartz hopes to raise awareness of Aspergers in the general community. In a world where “1 in 88 people will be diagnosed with Aspergers or Autism, it's important for everyone to hear a positive message. Aspergers is not a life sentence.”

I asked Schwartz why he chose theatre as the way to communicate his ideas and he corrected me – his Fringe show is not a play but a stand-up comedy routine. Stand-up allowed Schwartz to accept his Aspergers. “I had always been at the high end of the spectrum, so I had been in denial. Telling jokes about what made me different led to my acceptance of Aspergers.”

Schwartz says being Jewish colours everything in his life. “I see the world through a Jewish filter. I'm a High Holiday Jew... it's more about culture than religion for me; it's part of who I am.” His parents see the world in a Jewish way, with a strong emphasis on education. “Judaism demands that you question everything.”

The latest step in Schwartz's education is his recent graduation from the University of Pittsburgh in Library Science and Information. The online program allowed him to continue to work at the Millenium Library in Winnipeg and perform at local open mics.

Schwartz would like to do more public speaking. He sees himself as someone who can raise awareness about Aspergers, and also as a motivational speaker. He wants to show that he's faced lots of challenges and overcome them – and he wants to inspire others to do the same.

He'd like a future in stand-up, and a chance to go out on the road as a professional comic. He also has a more immediate goal as a comedian – he'd like his routine to be featured in the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, ideally along with other comics who have a connection to people with Aspergers. Themed programs “have done wonders for the Gay and Lesbian community and the Aboriginal community,” he explained. Schwartz has approached Artistic Director Al Rae with the idea. When I marvelled at his chutzpah, Schwartz explained that he got to know Rae by working with the festival, most recently as host of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival performances at the Millenium Library. At first he brushed off any suggestion that he'd been courageous in making his proposal, but then he said it was “a bit cheeky – but no more than approaching any local producer.”

Aspergers is a hot topic, with recent major changes in the way educators, families, medical professionals and members of society as a whole approach people on the spectrum. In the 2013 Winnipeg Fringe, we'll have a rare opportunity to hear about Aspergers from someone *with* Aspergers.

I asked Schwartz for a final word on why, with over a hundred shows to choose from, you should come to see Aspergers; a Tale of a Social Misfit. “Come for the brutal honesty and the unique point of view. As a comedian with Aspergers, I'm really taking the fringe to the Fringe.”

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