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Joe Wells- interview

Acclaimed comedian and writer, and strong advocate for the neurodivergent community, Joe Wells is currently on tour around the UK with his tour, I Am Autistic. Sharing his life experiences with audiences, he has a personal touch to his work that cannot be found anywhere else, as Joe's clever jokes are said to hit the mark again and again.

In answer to some questions about this, Joe has kindly given a few responses below about his craft.


How would you describe yourself, and your career?

I’m a comedian and a writer, I used to do a lot of political comedy but in 2019 I found some stuff out about my childhood which lead to an autism diagnosis, and then I started doing more personal material and stuff about neurodiversity (which in a way is also political); it took me a while but these last few years I feel I’ve found my voice.

What does it mean to you to be autistic?

That’s quite a difficult question to answer- I try to remember that these terms are just brackets put around people who have always existed. Historically, the definition has been very medical, written by people who are not like us and see us as “less than”, but in recent years autistic people have begun to define themselves. I think “autisticness” is defined by the experiences of those people; I’m more interested in sharing my experiences and the experiences of other autistic people than I am in working out a neat definition.

Why is it important to share your identity, particularly representing autistic and neurodivergent people in the arts?

I guess it’s important to me that other people understand me, and one of my biggest fears is not being understood. I know that often the things which bother me don’t bother other people and the way in which I express myself (eg show that I am anxious or hurt) aren’t picked up by neurotypical people. I want people to understand me and empathise with me (there’s a stereotype that autistic people don’t have empathy but I find it’s often us who aren’t empathised with, there’s a theory around this called double empathy which is worth looking up) because my life and the lives of people like me would be easier if they did.

How has comedy helped you express yourself?

I love comedy- it’s a conversation where I always understand what is going on. I love that it’s mainstream and I can share my experiences with types of people who I wouldn’t normally get to talk to.

Having had such a huge viral response to some of your work, how has this influenced you?

It’s so nice to have fans now who will seek out my work, come see me on tour etc. I'm still doing what I've always done and making shows about the stuff I want to talk about but now I'm performing in front of bigger audiences.

How do you tap into the autistic community, and neurotypical audience members during your show?

I always try to make stuff as broad as possible so everyone can connect no matter what their understanding or experience. I think I’ve learned that from playing all different types of comedy clubs- one night I’ll be at an LGBTQ+ friendly night in Brighton, the next night I’ll be at a golf club in Kent- it teaches you how to connect with all types of people.

Have you had any particularly unique or funny responses to your act that you can share?

We had someone annoyed that in our podcast (Neurodivergent Moments with Abigoliah Schamaun) we were being bad role models to young neurodivergent people by talking about drinking and drugs. There’s a weird thing with Neurodivergence where people expect you to be good role models to younger people in a way they wouldn’t for other writers/comedians, it’s kind of infantilising.

What has been the most fulfilling moment of your career so far?

I’m very proud of my latest show which I’m currently touring. I put everything I wanted to say about autism into it and I think it’s come out well.

What message do you want to put out there most?

The new show is about being yourself, even when other people are telling you not to. That’s the takeaway, but more than anything I want people to find it funny, the messages are always secondary to the jokes.


Huge thanks to Joe for his contributions to this- I have been following his work online for several years now, so it is a joy to have been able to discuss this. All the best for the next leg of the tour!

Get tickets to the show here:

Additional thanks to Lisa White for coordinating this interview.


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