Is Jerry Seinfeld autistic? The wealthiest standup comic in all of history thinks that he just might be.
Standups love to say that they went into comedy only because of their emotional problems. Only people who have had difficulties in life, they say, could get up on a stage every night and make fun of their own dysfunctions and life problems to complete strangers. Pain, comics say, makes for great comedy.
Seinfeld gave a personal interview to NBC News Brian Williams which aired on Thursday, the same day the latest season of the comic’s Internet show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee Premiered. In the interview Seinfeld told Williams that, “I think, on a very drawn-out scale, I think I’m on the [autism] spectrum.”
Anyone who has seen the Oscar winning movie Rain Man knows at least a little bit about Autism. Most of the illness’ sufferers, however, cannot even communicate and need full time care. There are, though, many who are quite brilliant and can succeed at living a normal life. It is believed by some that such famous people throughout history who may have had autism, if only mildly, include Mozart and Albert Einstein.
They would have been described at one time as idiot savants: people who may be brilliant artists, musicians or mathematicians but who otherwise seem to in some way behave almost like someone who suffers from a mental handicap.
Today the more proper term used for such people is Asperger’s. Named for an Austrian Psychiatrist from the mid-Twentieth century who first diagnosed it, people with Asperger’s Syndrome have low level autism and to the average person appear to be normal and they can be completely functional in life. But they have great difficulty with social interactions and reading social cues.
Seinfeld said of himself that, “basic social engagement is really a struggle. I’m very literal, when people talk to me and they use expressions, sometimes I don’t know what they’re saying. But I don’t see it as dysfunctional, I just think of it as an alternate mindset.”
If this in indeed true and Seinfeld is in some way autistic, then his millions of fans around the world should be grateful as it helped to formulate the basis of his comic persona.