Adam Schwartz has accomplished a lot.
The stand-up comedian travelled with his Fringe show, Aspergers; A Tale of a Social Misfit, launched Autistic Productions to support artists who are on the autism spectrum and now has written a book.
“On paper, it seems impressive,” Schwartz says. “But, it really isn’t.”
Schwartz, a 29-year-old comic with Aspergers syndrome, is releasing his first book, I Have Aspergers So I’m Better Than You. Shh... Don’t Tell Mom!, in April.
The book is a memoir based on his experience living with the autism spectrum disorder.
When talking about the somewhat confrontational title, Schwartz grins widely, anticipating the giggles and gazes his debut book will elicit.
“That’s a big reason why I chose a goofy picture of me wearing a crown and a blanket as a cape,” he says.
But beneath his mockery, Schwartz knows that the book has a latent purpose; for many people, it will serve as their first exposure to Aspergers.
“I’m trying to confront mainstream society by saying, ‘Look, I’m sick and tired of all these representations (of Asperger),’” Schwartz says. “Every single representation of it is Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.”
Sheldon, played by Jim Parsons on the CBS sitcom, is an obsessive-compulsive, routine-oriented physicist. In science, he’s brilliant, but when it comes to socializing, he struggles.
Where Schwartz insists characters like these miss the mark on representing Aspergers is in that they don’t want friends, social interactions or love.
Schwartz would kill to have more of all three.
“People with Asperger take a lot longer to pick up on cues and body language,” Schwartz says. “By the time I realize you want to be my friend or someone wants to be romantically involved with me, the opportunity might have passed.”
Schwartz has faced these problems his whole life. His performances are a battle against the public perception of a condition they don’t really understand.
In his act, which Schwartz has honed for about five years, the comedian transforms all of these disadvantages into assets with a stoic manner of honesty and criticism that is central to the man he is.
Schwartz says channeling that into a book was challenging for him and he worked with an editor for the first time to get it right. He hated that.
“The feeling of having what you wrote ripped to shreds. The tough love of something you thought was absolutely golden, and finding out you’re on the wrong track.”
Schwartz has high hopes for his work.
“Ideally, it sells amazingly, I win an Oscar when they turn it into a movie and everyone loves me and I become a huge star and girls date me because I’m famous,” Schwartz says.
Find Adam Schwartz at open mics throughout the city or by visiting autisticproductions.com.
Published in Volume 70, Number 21 of The Uniter (February 25, 2016)