TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL
Asperger’s Are Us Delights Tribeca Crowd With Jokes and Jabs
BY BRADFORD William DAVIS
The distinctive comedy troupe made a stop at the Tribeca Film Festival.
At the world premiere of On Tour with Asperger’s Are Us, comedy troupe member Noah Britton introduced the six-part docuseries which chronicles the six-week, multi-city tour of Asperger’s Are Us, a comedy troupe comprised of individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome.
“All of you know we're comedians,” said Britton to an audience of Tribeca Film Festival-goers. “But obviously, you also know we're something else... which is, of course, students of philosophy.”
The delayed delivery of Britton’s joke embodied the sometimes-tense, often-heartfelt, and frequently side-splitting moments of the premiere that included an exclusive sketch performance by Britton and fellow members Jack Hanke, New Michael Ingemi and Ethan Finlan. The performance, which was filled with the troupe’s signature pun-filled banter and fourth-wall breaks, had the audience in stitches.
After the screening, Hanke opened up about why he was drawn to comedy and how he knew he was good at his job.
HBO: When did you realize you were funny?
Jack Hanke: Maybe fifth grade? I was in summer camp and I realized people laughed at what I said. It made me feel good, like it would for most ten-year-olds. As I got older, I realized it was the way to make friends.
HBO: Who are your comedic influences?
Jack Hanke: I would say The Joker. He has very visceral humor, like in those episodes where he locks Batman in the basement and tortures him.
HBO: Wait, are you talking about Batman: The Animated Series from the '90s?
Jack Hanke: No, I haven't seen any of that. Unlike the Joker, I'm not serious. But Monty Python was a big influence. Honestly, I know most comedians watch a lot of other comedians. I don't. I never saw comedy as a vocation, and as such, I didn’t feel an obligation to watch a lot of comedy, which I'm sure makes me much worse at my job.
HBO: Do the others see comedy as their vocation?
Jack Hanke: It depends. Ethan and I want to pursue careers full-time in other sectors. Noah is a professor and is happy with that, but he loves touring and would continue if it made sense. Michael wants to be a full-time performer. But he's flexible.
HBO: Have you learned anything about yourself through touring?
Jack Hanke: I've definitely learned more about my limitations. I learned that I look really freaking weird on stage. I learned about how bad my posture is. I learned how rapidly I talk. I learned I need to be much more careful with my facial expressions. I learned that I'm not good on my feet. I've learned many flaws about myself through touring.
HBO: But bad posture and clumsiness can be good for comedy.
Jack Hanke: If you're laughing at yourself, sure.
Watch On Tour with Asperger’s Are Us on HBO.