by ADN

March 11, 2015

Night of too many starsNight of Too Many Stars, taped on February 28 at the Beacon Theatre in New York City and aired this past Sunday, is an autism benefit that is not orchestrated by Autism Speaks.

Want to know some other key facts about the show?

~It was founded by  Robert Smigel whose own son was diagnosed with autism around 2006.
~The first “marathon” aired  April 13, 2008.
~Prior to this year’s event, there have only been two others.
~Since 2006, Night of Too Many Stars has raised over $18 million.
~The show is sponsored by Comedy Central and Jon Stewart’s Busboy Productions who collaborate with the non profit New York Collaborates For Autism.
~Almost $4 million in grants have been made for a variety of autism education and family service programs across the country. (50 programs in 20 states)

If you live outside of the US, you probably didn’t have access to this year’s show. Videos from Comedy Central are rarely made available outside of the US. The good news, if you live outside of the US, is that Comedy Central has released a number of the segments from the show, on their YouTube Channel.

The biggest story all over the media by far was that of  Jodi DiPiazza’sand her duet with “Weird Al” Yankovic on his Kinks-parodying “Yoda.” The two were joined at the end by the Actionplay Chorus that garnered a standing ovation.

DiPiazza, a 13-year-old musician with autism, stole the 2012 show by performing “Firework” with  Katy Perry. The official You Tube video has been viewed almost 9 million times.

However popular DiPiazza’s performance may have been, the most poignant moment of the evening involved Gilbert Gottfried and Owen Suskind, a young man with autism, who reenacted a scene from one of Owen’s favorite movies, Disney’s “Aladdin.” Before the “skit” Owen’s father Ron Suskind on tape took the audience through the journey of how Disney characters had helped him to communicate with Owen.

Suskind wrote an article “Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney” for the New York Times that was published on March 7, 2014 and the story began to go viral. 

Over the years the show has moved away from calling autism a disease, and they are not seeking a cure. One more improvement would be to start including identity-first language such as “autistic” as well as  “children with autism”.

In the end, how good was it? With regards to entertainment, it all depends upon your taste in humour. In terms of raising awareness, pretty good. In relation to fundraising, excellent.

About the author 


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