Positively Funny, Inc., Birmingham Improv and Comedy School

When he was in the fourth grade, Superman started talking about being a comedian. He isn’t going to remember it, but he got his inspiration from watching Josh Blue win “Last Comic Standing”. I got called to the school so many times that year, you wouldn’t believe it.
It turns out that on Show and Tell days, instead of showing and telling, Superman would get in front of the class and perform what he called “The Superman Show”. As far as I was concerned, there wasn’t a reason to admonish him, I thought it was pure brilliance. I still do.

Many people don’t realize the huge amount of tests that autistic kids go through, but one is the measure of their memory. Superman tests very low on being able to remember things. I have been thinking about this as the years have gone by, because his ability to memorize scripts would be limited. Memorizing a script for stage is different from what autie kids do that is called “Scripting”. That is many of their uncanny ability to recite movies, line for line, and even act them out.

One day about six months ago, I thought of Improv and I started researching local improv troupes. I stumbled upon PSI.

Positively Funny performs every Tuesday night at a club downtown called The Rare Martini. I called them up and asked about their classes and their shows and took him in that night to see them perform. They engage their audience and he was very interactive with the actors. He even got up on stage and did a skit with them.
He had so much fun that I knew when we left that he was going to want to take classes. He did.

The next week, the Sparks clinic called and said that they were starting a different class we had been on the waiting list for for several months, so we had to put Improv on the back burner. I actually used it as an incentive to get him to complete the class at Sparks. If you are unfamiliar with the Sparks Clinic, they are a developmental clinic located in downtown Bham, close to UAB and in that hub where all of the medical stuff is. They have autism clinics, Down Syndrome clinics, social skills programs, and even a dental clinic designed to suit all manner of disabled patients. Much of the work there is done by medical students and supervised by senior faculty. Learn more HERE

One of the things that attracted me to PFI was their work as a not-for-profit called Perform-4A-Purpose. P4AP  takes on the issues that teens often deal with in our society, bullying, suicide, and school violence. To learn more about P4AP, go here and check it out It was this that sold me on them, because instinct told me that a group that works on those issues would likely be very accepting of an autistic teen who wants to realize his dreams. I wasn’t disappointed in the way they took him right in at the show.

He started his first class tonight. I’m trying to blend in to the corner of the room and just type on my tablet and write this blog. I normally blog with headphones on and music in my ears, but not tonight.
I hope the semester stays as good as this or better because he is having fun and feels accepted and is acting more free than I’ve seen in a long time. Now, normally, he is pretty free, all things considered, but this is different. It’s like music to my heart. The instructor went on in the beginning about the fact that this class is a judgment free zone.
PFI has a show coming up next Tuesday, October 7. It is the three year anniversary of their shows at the Rare Martini. This will be a special show, a fundraiser, to gather money for a project on teen suicide called “The Color of a Ghost.” Bring dollar bills and stuff your favorite actor’s tip jar to fund this project.
This material will be distributed for free to schools. Check it out yourself here.

One last thing, PFI also does parties and special events and they have a corporate training program as well. You should check them out to see about booking them for an event.

Superman says he hopes these classes make him more funny. I think if he just has a great time, that’s all that matters to me.

2 thoughts on “Positively Funny, Inc., Birmingham Improv and Comedy School

  1. Gwen

    I hope this isn’t a stupid question, but in terms of memorizing a script vs. “scripting” – is the difference found in the medium (s) ? ie written page versus visual & auditory for learning purposes?

    I’m glad he had fun.

    1. 52WeeksofBirmingham Post author

      Some kids with autism, both verbal and non-verbal alike, can recite parts and even entire movies word for word. That is scripting.

      In our case, he can to a degree, but nothing like some kids I have seen. If he were handed a script and told to memorize it, I don’t think he could.


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