Interview with Michael McCreary, the ‘AspieComic’ Part 1

mike McrearyOntario, Canada –  Michael McCreary is an 18 year old stand-up comic who has Asperger’s Syndrome. We came across Michael’s website AspieComic and wanted to learn more about this young man with a gift for  making people laugh while raising both autism awareness and empowerment. We were lucky enough to be able to interview him before he set off on his Canadian tour.

Below is part 1 of our exclusive interview with Michael.

Can you tell us a little of what it was like to grow up on the autistic spectrum? When did you gain a diagnosis?

I was diagnosed at the age of 5. For the most part, my childhood was really good. I was a bit more spontaneous back in the day, but nothing my folks couldn’t handle. I grew up in the Hockley Valley for my entire childhood, which was a perfectly serene place for me to vent, pace and play make-believe, whenever without being looked at funny by strangers.

Did you know that you were ‘different’ from a young age? How did your family support you during this period in your life?

Because my brother was diagnosed before me, my parents had gotten a lot of exposure to the Autism community and as a result, had a much higher tolerance for my “eccentricities”. They were extremely helpful and accommodating, as was the school system for most of my young life. However, upon review, there were some classmates, perhaps unaware of my situation, who took advantage of me and sometimes alienated me. I didn’t pick up on a lot of this because I was far too preoccupied with my own interests: dinosaurs, trains, Pokémon, the colour green, etc.

mike Mcreary2When did you realize that you had a talent for making others laugh? At what point did you think, ‘I can become a stand-up comedian’.

I’d always loved live performance, ever since I saw my brother take part in a production by a local young company theatre troupe. However there was always the problem of having to put your faith into your fellow actors to remember their lines and cues, so comedy was a perfect way for me to experiment with my own theatrics and presentation without the anxiety of having to rely on others. When I was young and I would come home, my parents would ask me how my day was and I think I would give them a bit too much information. So my mom encouraged me to write it all down and they would read it later. So as a result I used to journal a lot, where I’d turn my own life experiences into jokes. None of them had ever been put to any use until I hit my grade seven through eight years in elementary school. I had lost a lot of my friends and was ostracized which lead me into a sort of melancholy. My Mom had heard of standup comic from Vancouver, David Granier, who is the founder of Stand Up For Mental Health. He was holding group therapy/comedy writing classes with a group called Spark of Brilliance not too far from where I lived. They were classes for adults, but David interviewed me on the phone and thought I would be a good fit. I was enrolled in the program which enabled me to revisit old material and get back in touch with an audience. For me, doing stand up was and still is my therapy.

Below is a video of Michael’s first show, aged just 14.

Can you tell us a little about your show?

My set is called “Does This Make My Asperger’s Look Big?” and it’s all about exploring education, home life, relationships, pop culture, the DSM and ASD through of the eyes of someone on the spectrum. I want to give people a look at the lighter side of having Asperger’s Syndrome, I think it makes it more accessible to people. It gives people permission to laugh about a subject that is usually pretty serious. However, I want to stress that I am just one individual on the spectrum and that no two Aspies are alike.

Michael’s website AspieComic can be found here

You can also follow on Facebook and twitter

Part 2 of our interview can be found here