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After I saw that, I knew I need to
Plus? They're total L.A. hipsters. They deny it, but that's because they're so cool. I know they're hip because they know what "NT" means and also, Lesley wears cool glasses. So there you go. I feel cooler just having them here on my blog. But less cool because I'm gushing like a fangirl.
Here's my interview with Lesley and Ben.
What was the inspiration for Asperger's High? Do you have a personal connection with Asperger Syndrome?
Did you do any research to prepare for writing Asperger's High? If so, why didn't you include any references to Star Wars? Or is that just in my house?
Ben: Yes, we definitely did some internet research about some of the signs and behaviors of Aspergers. In sketch, we're always told that being specific is always more interesting. Because it was supposed to be a teen drama, we ended up watching videos where teens with Asperger's were explaining their syndrome on YouTube and talking about their lives.
Lesley: As for the absence of Star Wars references, we tried to make the obsessions in the lunch scene as different as possible and for the pop culture ones we just relied on things we knew or our friends knew. I have actually seen most of the movies J.T. Walsh is in. Sometimes the actor would just start saying the names of random movies toward the end of the take and after we’d call cut I’d say “Don’t say Toy Story 2.”
Your video finds the funny in a difficult subject. I thought it was hilarious, but then again, I'm probably brain damaged from being pregnant so many times. Did you get any negative feedback or was it a big love fest?
Lesley: We got some negative feedback, actually less than we expected. Some people commented that it wasn't an appropriate subject for comedy. I definitely was concerned about it being offensive or mean, and had to clarify certain jokes to make sure they played correctly. It partly a parody of the CW, which takes away some of the sting, but it is also about Asperger’s behaviors, some exaggerated, so it’s not surprising that some people would be offended. I basically think you’re either okay with it as a subject for comedy or you aren't and if you aren’t that’s totally valid.
Ben: Yes, happily most of the feedback has been really positive. I, like Lesley, was concerned that people would think we were just making fun of people with Asperger’s instead of Hollywood, but it seems like most people are in on the joke.
In the end, it seems like many people with Asperger’s have connected to seeing clichés of themselves represented, and families with a member who has Asperger's have found humor in identifying with some of the experiences they may have had.
People with Asperger are sometimes very literal. I saw a thread on an online forum for Aspies where some people thought it was a trailer for a real show. In retrospect, is there anything you would have done differently with this video? Like maybe put the words "parody" or "satire" in big letters at the beginning?
Lesley: It’s weird, but pretty much every satirical video I can think of has a ton of comments of people asking if it’s real. Even if you include the keywords “parody” “comedy” and “sketch” and list the writers cast and crew in the blurb for the video most people just don’t look at that.
There were definitely things that were too hard to shoot within our lavish $200 budget and one-day filming schedule. We couldn’t shoot in an actual school so we didn’t have any classroom scenes. We shot most of the video in a park that had a recreation center that looked like a high school. All of the interiors were shot in my apartment. But I think our director, Jason Axinn, did a really good job working within those constraints. Yay no-budget filmmaking!
Ben: Yeah, we're pretty happy with how the video turned out. In some ways, anybody that thinks that it could be a real show is a compliment to the way it looks.
Did you know that there really is a high school in California
Lesley: Yes! That’s one of the first things that comes up when you google “Asperger’s High” I wonder if anyone that goes there has seen the video?
Ben: I'm sure it's a much better and different than the school that we came up with!
With the success of the show Parenthood, and the slew of awards won by the Temple Grandin biopic with Clare Danes, autism seems to be hot in Hollywood. (It kind of reminds me of how lesbians were the hot topic in 2000.) Do you think there could be a show like Asperger's High in our future? If so, how do I go about getting myself cast as the snarky, caffeine-guzzling mom?
Ben: Ha ha. I don't think so! But you never know! I think Hollywood is always surprising us with the types of shows they produce and by what becomes popular. I don't think anyone would have predicted a show like Jersey Shore would become such a huge success. If any studios approach us to adapt the video into a show, we'll call you first!
As a mom, I'm pretty out of the loop, but even I can see that vampires and zombie unicorns are so five minutes ago. As L.A.-based hipsters, please tell me what the next big trend is. That way I can tell my readers they heard it here first.
Ben: Ha ha. Lesley and I are NOT cool people, we're total nerds, so you may be asking the wrong people. Gourmet food trucks are becoming really popular out here in LA, and also ramen noodle restaurants. But that's me thinking about food because I'm hungry right now. As far as entertainment goes, I usually stick with Entertainment Weekly to tell me what's cool.
Lesley: Puppets. Because Ben owns a lot of puppets.