- Chris O'Rourke
Ian Lynam in Autistic Licence. Image by Stephen Piece
Recent years have seen several productions challenging misconceptions about autism. Autistic Licence by Ian Lynam, a self proclaimed bi-sexual, autistic comedian is the latest to offer some insight. His one man, stand-up comedy show being part confessional, part history lesson, with just the smallest smidgen of science. If you're never blinded by the science you might well be snow-blinded by its whirl through history. Where Lynam's condescending comic stylings taking vicious aim.
In Autistic Licence we get to meet Lynam, his anxiety, his therapist, and his hockey stick. The last feeling like a joke forced to fit, and not for the first time in Lynam's life. Some well timed voiceovers allow Lynam frame his life story and set up some clever jokes about living with autism and wanting to be a comedian. It's all going swimmingly, Lynam making sure we know he's making eye contact. Then comes his revisionist history.
Switching to a powerpoint presentation that ends with a collage, Lynam flings more names than you'll probably remember, including some biggies like Turing, Cumberbatch, and Asperger. His last minute introduction of Grunya Sukhareva, the Soviet child psychologist, proves less a revelation so much as a badly handled decision. A pioneer written out of the history of autism in the West during much of the twentieth century, for reasons larger than Lynam cares to admit (including living in Stalin's Russia, where she was revered), she's barely written into the show. Lynam veering more towards Cumber-bashing or certifying Asperger's Nazi credentials. True, insults make for better jokes, but Sukhareva's inclusion is little more than a footnote, albeit an admired one, and tells us little. Looking a little like history repeating itself.
Using lots of movie references, Autistic Licence resumes a steadier course as Lynam gets back to talking about what he knows best: himself. He's a comedian. He's autistic. He's honest about his experiences, bravely refusing what others think a comedian or a person with autism should be. Mostly, he's funny with it all, keeping the audience entertained. Autistic Licence might stumble in places, Lynam capable of crafting the odd forced gag, but more often he crafts the perfectly timed one. More successful, funny, and enjoyable when he speak to his own experiences.
Autistic Licence, written and performed by Ian Lynam, runs at Bewleys Cafe Theatre as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2021 until September 25.
For more information visit Dublin Fringe Festival 2021