Aspiring comedians living on the spectrum take stage to find humor in autism

Aspiring comedians took to the stage Friday at The Living Room Theater, some of them had never been in front of a live audience.

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Aspiring comedians took to the stage Friday at the Plexpod Commons in Westport, some of them had never been in front of a live audience.

Their material came from a different kind of experience.

Like every good comedian, Joe Harman draws on his life, living independently as an adult with autism.

"It's not always easy to laugh at autism," he said.

He's one of several acts, each with a unique perspective.

"It's been three years since we got a diagnosis. We still struggle sometimes," Ventura Rangel said.

Rangel is sharing stories about her son, Atticus.

"A lot of times, it's difficult for families on the autism spectrum. It seems very lonely," she said.

"People don't know how to react to us," Harman said.

They call their show "An Evening with the Rents," filling the Plexpod Commons with other families who live with autism.

"They're going to be in an audience of people who get it," said Kelly Lee, who runs Camp Encourage. "We provide overnight camps for kids with autism spectrum disorder."

Proceeds from the show go toward scholarships for families.

"We get them together throughout the year to connect," Lee said.

Sometimes it's more about reflecting, finding humor in the challenges.

"A lot of the stuff we go through is pretty hilarious," Harman said. "It shouldn't be a taboo. It's something we have to deal with no matter what."

They know autism is the setup not the punchline.

"It's OK to laugh. It's what you do after that really matters," Harman said.

All the performers have worked on their sets for months with the help of professional comedians.

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