Photo: Joshua Huston
“By the time Jackie Moffitt was 16, he had transferred schools four times and was longing for a community where he could be accepted as his authentic self — an autistic person. “Autistic people are very dehumanized in our society,” says Moffitt. “They are perceived as being incapable of emotions. People are surprised that people with autism can understand humor or love. They assume that having autism means a lack of desire to connect with other human beings.”
Seeking this connection, Moffitt discovered Theater of Possibility (TOP), a theater arts program based in Seattle and Bellevue serving kids who are “quirky, spirited, or shy or who may have Asperger’s, autism, ADHD, or other learning or ability differences,” as the demographic is described on the TOP website.
Through theater games, improvisation, and role-playing led by TOP Director Lauren Goldman Marshall, Moffitt learned to embrace many of his personal attributes like extreme extroversion and abstract thinking that he’d previously felt pressure to repress.
“A lot of times for kids with disabilities their whole life is about people telling them what they’re deficient in,” says Marshall, who co-founded TOP in the years after her own daughter was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. “With TOP, they are here first and foremost to have fun and create theater together. I’m definitely highlighting relationship skills, but it’s brought in more through the back door. It’s about making kids feel successful.”
Now 21, Moffitt works as a teacher’s assistant at TOP, supporting the next generation of autistic children as they learn and grow while they also reach a level of self-acceptance.
“It’s not just about autistic people needing to learn neurotypical social skills so they can pass in a world that is majority non-autistic people,” says Moffitt. “I think that neurotypical people should also learn how to empathize with autistic people’s perspective and communicate with them on their own terms.”
“Although Ken Marino says he learned nothing about how to be a Latin lover while directing How to Be a Latin Lover, he enjoyed collaborating on the development of such an outlandish character. The movie follows Maximo (Eugenio Derbez), an aging playboy suddenly dumped by the older woman he married for money. With nowhere else to turn, he moves in with his estranged sister Sara (Salma Hayek) and her 10-year-old son, Hugo (Raphael Alejandro). Determined to return to the lap of luxury, Maximo uses Hugo to meet a rich widow (Raquel Welch) —and learns the hard way that love and trust must be earned. Along his journey he meets Cindy, a frozen yogurt enthusiast/crazy cat lady (Kristen Bell) and two bullies (Rob Riggle and Rob Huebel) who squeeze him for cash. His best friend Rick (Rob Lowe) is the only one who understands him as a fellow connoisseur of wealthy older women.
How to Be a Latin Lover is now available on Digital HD, Blu-ray, and DVD. Marino can also be seen in front of the camera this summer on Netflix reprising his role as Victor in Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later. I talked to Marino about wrangling cats, driving trucks through houses, and hypnotism.”
“The feminist Canadian sketch comedy series Baroness von Sketch Show has made a splash on the CBC and graces American airwaves on IFC tonight at 10:00pm. The half-hour show is written by and starring Meredith MacNeill and Second City alumni Carolyn Taylor, Aurora Browne, and Jennifer Whalen. Hilarious, smart, and original, the sketches vary in length and never fail to entertain. I talked to the talented bunch about the vibe of their writers’ room, their most humiliating moments as performers, and pigeons.”
“Jeff Baena says his fascination with medieval times (the historical period, not the dinner theater) inspired his latest film, The Little Hours. The story follows three young Tuscan nuns (Alison Brie, Kate Micucci, and Aubrey Plaza) as they cope with tedious life in the convent. When Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly) brings on a new hired hand (Dave Franco), a handsome young servant forced into hiding by his angry lord, the repressed nunnery “erupts in a whirlwind of pansexual horniness, substance abuse, and wicked revelry.” As if the cast weren’t stacked enough, comedy greats Molly Shannon, Fred Armisen, Adam Pally, and Nick Offerman build further on the film’s unusual premise and hilarity. I talked to Baena about career beginnings, shooting in Italy, and life in the convent.”
“Andrea Savage (Veep, Episodes, Dog Bites Man) created and stars in ‘I’m Sorry’, a new half-hour comedy on truTV. Tired of being offered boring, distressed, sexless mom roles, Savage set out to write a character she’d be proud to play on a show she’d love to work on. I’m Sorry follows the “seemingly confident, together comedy writer, wife and mom Andrea, who comically exposes her inner immaturity and neuroses through unexpected life situations” and is executive produced by The Lonely Island, Will Ferrell, and Adam McKay. Savage assembled a cast of her favorites including Judy Greer, Jason Mantzoukas, Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer, June Squibb, Martin Mull, Lizzy Caplan, Jamie Denbo, and Kulap Vilaysack. I talked with Savage about breaking the sitcom mom stereotype, bringing her own mom to set, and alternative life paths.”
“Decades before writing The Comedians, a deep dive into the history of American comedy, Kliph Nesteroff was a young standup working out his set in small town Canada. Nesteroff revisits the plight of current amateur comedians as the host of Funny How?, a new Viceland series premiering this week. Nesteroff shadows rookie comics from all walks of life and chats with veterans like Dave Attell, Mike Birbiglia, Rhea Butcher, Cameron Esposito, and Pete Holmes about bombing, killing, and making it in comedy. I talked to Nesteroff about his first standup experience, queer comedians, Christian comedians, and everything in between.”