A group of autistic adults performed stand-up comedy for the first time last night, at an event held at Scottish Parliament to celebrate the 20th anniversary of our charity's work in Scotland.
The budding comedians took part in workshops which were led by Janey Godley and her daughter Ashley Storrie. In just nine short weeks they learned to write, hone and perform their own comedy.
We designed the workshops to challenge stereotypes after research found that 73 per cent of autistic people in Scotland said that the public considers them to be 'anti-social', and 80 per cent feel they are judged as being 'shy'.
Janey Godley’s husband and her daughter Ashley are both autistic, meaning that the award-winning comedians were able to bring their unique experience and insight to the workshops.
Our celebratory event was sponsored by Anas Sarwar MSP and routines which premiered included 'improv' between two wizards, a long and winding piece on procrastination, and some very romantic maths gags. More than 100 guests attended, including the Minister for Childcare and Early Years, Mark McDonald.
Gordon Wallace, from South Lanarkshire, performed a routine which explained how his autism allows him to be both scientific and artistic. He said: "The workshops have been a great opportunity to meet new people and learn about what different people find funny. Writing good comedy takes a lot of intelligence, and you need to be able to process audiences' reactions and social cues in order to perform. I have learned these things through the workshops."
Jenny Paterson, director of The National Autistic Society Scotland, said: "I am so proud of our budding comedians, who created funny, clever routines to perform on our 20th anniversary.
"Our charity has achieved a huge amount over the past 20 years, and we will continue to provide innovative services and campaign on issues affecting autistic people for the next 20 years and beyond. Until everyone understands."