Boston-based sketch comedy troupe Asperger’s Are Us doesn’t want your sympathy. Its members don’t want to be the face of the development disorder their name opines, and they don’t want to mislead you into thinking you’re attending a nonprofit fundraiser either. This is, after all, a comedy show.
What the group does want is to make you laugh, and part of that mission is made a little easier if you know that each member is affected by Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. You’ll be able to fall deeper into the jokes that way, but the quartet’s deadpan delivery and affection for irony and sarcasm derive their influence as much from acts like Steven Wright and Jimmy Carr as its members’ disorder.
Noah Britton, New Michael Ingemi, Jack Hanke and Ethan Finlan formed Asperger’s Are Us after meeting in 2010 at a summer camp for autistic youth, where Britton was a counselor and the others were attendees. The quartet began collaborating soon after to combine their love for absurdity and wordplay with some common symptoms associated with Asperger’s, resulting in sketches and improv performances that both draw awareness to their disorder and create a unique brand for the group’s comedy.
Due to college and work schedules, the group performed less than a half-dozen shows a year for the next few years, amassing material and gradually growing more comfortable performing before crowds. This year the group is on a 13-city tour across the East Coast, dipping into the Midwest with five shows as well.
The group also caught the attention of freelance filmmaker and cinematographer Alex Lehmen, who had been a longtime camera operator on the Mark Duplass sitcom “The League.” After convincing the troupe to allow him to follow along with a camera, Lehmen spent months filming the group’s rising career and the lives of its members as they negotiated the changes.
“Asperger’s Are Us: A True Story,” a documentary produced by Duplass Brothers Productions, resulted from the time Lehmen spent with the group and was picked up by Netflix for an exclusive December release almost immediately. But rather than focusing on the autism community or the adversity the quartet faces due to Asperger’s, the film casts itself as a coming-of-age tale about four friends trying to make their way in a strange, often overwhelming world, which is a premise the troupe projects in its comedy and one that everyone can relate to at times.
Asperger’s Are Us will perform their sketches live at Theatre 99, 280 Meeting St., Thursday. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door or online at www.Etix.com. Seating is general admission, so arriving 30 minutes prior to show time is recommended. Call 843-853-6687 or visit www.Theatre99.com for additional information.