Autistics’ Speaking Day: My Sense of Humour

It’s shortly after Midnight on November 1st in South Africa (timezone GMT + 2), which means it’s All Souls’ Day and, more to the point, Autistics’ Speaking Day 2011. This is my Autistics’ Speaking Day post.
First, some background. Last year, an autism organisation decided to label November 1st “Communication Shutdown Day” in support of autism. People who joined were supposed to stay off the internet for the whole day. While many celebrities including Miranda Kerr, Steven Seagal and even Edwin Aldrin endorsed the day, many autistic bloggers and self-advocates were opposed. They pointed out that the internet is a boon to many people with autism, and that not using the internet for a day would not give insight into the communication problems autistic people face. In response to the shutdown, autistic bloggers Kathryn Bjornstad and Corina Becker set up Autistics Speaking Day as an event on Facebook. I had a post ready to go, and shortly after Midnight on November 1 last year, I became the first of many bloggers to post in support of the day.
Autistics Speaking Day was a huge success. Over 500 people attended on Facebook, almost 100 bloggers posted, Twitter hosted a 24-hour chat session on it, and numerous curious people came to the blogs of the attendees, and read and commented. So successful was the day, it was decided to repeat it again this year. My post will be about my sense of humour.
My mother was raised in the UK although she was born in South Africa. From her, I developed a taste for the British style of humour: sarcasm and witty wordplay. My all-time favourite comedy series is “Red Dwarf”. I also enjoyed “The Brittas Empire”, although I thought its last two series were very weak and shouldn’t have been made. I particularly enjoy Terry Pratchett’s excellent Discworld Series. Tom Sharpe is also a favourite, but I find his more recent books (Grantchester Grind, Wilt in Nowhere) a bit of a let down.
Because of Hollywood’s dominance of the Television and Film Worlds, I’ve seen a lot of US films and series. It took me a while to “get” sitcom humour. I was in my teens before I really started enjoying it. I never could get into “The Cosby Show”, but I enjoyed, among others, “Benson”, “Wings”, “Mad About You” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos“. Best of all is “The Big Bang Theory”, but I don’t always get to see it.
The comic strip “Dilbert” I find hilarious because it rings true. A few years ago, there was a fight in “The Star”, which runs Dilbert. Somebody wrote in asking that it be dropped. Others wrote in in support of Dilbert staying. One letter writer even claimed that he and his colleagues were convinced that Scott Adams eavesdrops on their company meetings to get ideas. Garfield is another strip I enjoy. As a cat lover, I find Garfield’s attitude totally believable. The long-running strip Andy Capp was also engaging. Reg Smythe based the characters of Andy and Florence Capp on his own parents. However, there was a weakness that occurred more and more often in the later years of the comic. Smythe drew Andy Capp for literally decades, and towards the end he ran out of new ideas and started recycling old scenarios. The now sadly defunct “The Far Side”, created by Gary Larson, was another strip I never missed. Lastly, my all-time favourite cartoonist was Carl Giles, who drew cartoons for over 50 years. His most famous creation was “Grandma”, matriarch of the Giles “Family”.
MAD Magazine, the famous satirical quarterly created by William Gaines, was a great read for me as a child. Its humour ranges from the cutting to the absurd and frequently shows great insight. The parodies of films and television shows are often better than what they’re mocking. MAD’s signature item is the fact that the last item in an article is usually a dig at MAD itself.
Two things that I enjoyed at first but eventually disappointed were the television series “Frasier” and the “Adrian Mole” books. “Frasier” started out as very witty, but towards the end it became very anti-intellectual. Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) and his brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce) were both degree-holding psychiatrists who were regularly outsmarted by those around them, particularly their father Martin (John Mahoney), an ex-policeman. In one episode, a person drops dead in Niles’s flat during a party, and the brothers try to get him out without anyone noticing. That did it for me. Adrian Mole, Sue Townsend’s most famous literary creation, first appeared in “The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4” and then in “The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole“. There have been several more books, but I think those two were the best. Townsend’s mistake was to not grow and develop Adrian Mole. A review of “Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction” in the now sadly defunct SL South Africa Magazine summed it up perfectly. Adrian is permanently 13 and three-quarters old, and attitudes that are funny, even touching in a teenager are cringeworthy in an adult. In “Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years“, a now-adult Adrian is sent to a psychiatrist who is female. He then “falls in love” with her. I didn’t find this in the least bit amusing. I just found it creepy, very very creepy.
I’ve smiled at “The Man Song” and I find the performances of Guy on “Tourette’s Karaoke” fun. In both cases, the “victim” is in on the joke. Internet memes, especially the Joseph Ducreux meme, are something I find entertaining because of their often excellent wit.
In general, I enjoy humour where I can “laugh with”, and I squirm when it demands I “laugh at”. I suppose that sums my sense of humour up best.

About autismjungle

I am a Software Test Analyst. Shortly before I turned 21 I was officially diagnosed, although I had long suspected I was autistic. Welcome to my blog
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4 Responses to Autistics’ Speaking Day: My Sense of Humour

  1. Pingback: Autism Blog - Autism parent’s listening day « Left Brain/Right Brain

  2. Jason says:

    I am happy you wrote something expressing yourself on ASday (Autistics Speaking Day). Keep up the good work and keep writing!! Happy Autistics Speaking Day!! You are right, its good to laugh in general. It makes life go by easier. 🙂 I am glad you enjoy those sitcom TV shows now!!

  3. Matt says:

    Garfield was my favorite strip as a kid and it had a huge influence on my picking up a pencil to doodle. I still enjoy reading the old strips today!

  4. autismjungle says:

    Thank you all for your comments! I hope to read your posts next year too.

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