Many believe Karl Pilkington has Asperger Syndrome, and I definitely think so too. In fact he appears to have so many symptoms of Aspergers, that I believe he is a “text book case” for high functioning Aspergers.
For those who don’t know, Karl was a radio producer on a show Ricky Gervais worked on. Ricky found Karl’s unique view of the world to be entertaining and he often ended up in hysterics after Karl had said something that Karl didn’t even know was funny. This article and interview should explain Karl quite well. But it’s better to watch him on The Ricky Gervais Show on YouTube.
So let’s look at the evidence of Karl having Aspergers:
- Lateral thinker
- Deep thinker
- Thinks at the same speed as talking (ADHD)
- Likes to be alone
- Intolerant of certain things
- Likes routine/Hates change
- Talks common sense (even if he’s not too good at expressing the topic clearly)
- Loves learning new and interesting facts
- Is creative (DIY mostly)
- Lack of confidence
- Takes things literally (such as metaphors)
- Worries a lot
I can’t think of all the symptoms he has off the top of my head, so I’ll keep adding them to the list above, as and when I’m reminded of them.
In the interview linked to above, Karl says on the subject of becoming more famous;
“I don’t think it’ll happen. I don’t have the confidence Ricky has. I’m always worried about stuff.”
Even though he frequently states that Karl is an idiot, Ricky himself has admitted on The Ricky Gervais Show in 2011 that Karl does have plenty of common sense (I can’t yet identify which episode). He actually stopped taking the piss for a few seconds and even sounded sincere when he said it!
I love listening to what Karl has to say because, like me, he is a lateral thinker and can observe things that other people miss. But unlike many comedians, for example, who deliberately make a living out of their unique take on the world, Karl is the reluctant entertainer. Although I sometimes get mad at Ricky for interrupting Karl or for turning an interesting discussion into sexual inuendo, I have to feel grateful to him for recognising how entertaining Karl is.
He knew that Karl would never make the decision to put himself on TV – even if he had the resources to. Karl admits he can be quite lazy and will fill his days with what seem to others to be mundane and boring activities. So he sticks to doing what he is familiar with because he does not like change. Not liking change and preferring to have the same routine every day is classic Aspergers behavior.
In every episode this is confirmed to me more and more. I always wish I had recorded each episiode, so I can analyse everything he says and talk about them here. But luckily people have uploaded various shows to YouTube, so it’s easy to go over them and embed them onto this site to show examples.
I end up watching them at least twice because I view them with two minds. One for sheer entertainment; the other to analyse Karl’s brain. Ricky named the show The Ricky Gervais Show, but once he invited Karl to participate, Karl soon became the star of the show, and now many feel there would be no show without him.
Many of the YouTube comments are from people who hate how Ricky always interrupts Karl and calls him an idiot. Others say that the people who criticize Ricky don’t understand the premise of the show.
I think they do understand, but Ricky seems to be ignoring the fact that the show has become something slightly different to what he intended. He just wanted to be silly and have a laugh, but he did not plan for Karl actually talking sense a lot of the time. It is obvious that he invited him on the show to provide his nutty anecdotes and bizarre opinions that Ricky and Steve find ridiculous.
Some people actually thought Karl was too funny to be for real, and thought that Ricky Gervais had “made him up”.
I knew straight away that Karl was for real, because I think like he does in many ways, and I keep a diary like he does. By that I mean I write it in a similar way to how he writes his diary. At the time of writing my diary, I won’t find it funny at all. I could be moaning about something that annoyed me that day and be feeling angry or embarrassed. But when I read it back months or years later, I can be howling laughing at what a plonker I was, or the way I phrased something, as they’re so random and not what you expect. I personally find Karl’s diary entries the most funny, and the best parts of the show, for the same reason.
Although Karl is a lateral thinker and often a deep thinker, he is not a fluent or articulate speaker. He will have an idea or read something fascinating and try to relay this to Ricky and Steve on the show, but as he is inarticulate, he is not able to do the story much justice. I feel for him when this happens too, because Ricky and Steve interrupt him to make jokes and he quite often is not able to finish what he was saying. That happens to me all the time too. It’s frustrating because it makes you wish you could sound clever, because you know you are clever inside your head!
I also think Karl has ADHD like me too. And I believe it is this that is responsible for him not remembering certain words or phrases, when describing something. I find myself shouting at the TV in an attempt to give him the phrase he’s looking for! But the same thing happens to me all the time too. I will forget the most obvious words that I otherwise use regularly. Just the other day I could not think of the word “articulate” – ironically!
So the Aspergers makes Karl have the random and funny thoughts in the first place, but the ADHD makes communicating his thoughts ineffective, but sometimes the lack of communication makes everything even funnier.
It’s a shame that some people form an opinion about him after listening to him speak for only a few minutes as a result of channel hopping, then they just think he’s an idiot, which is the idea Ricky is trying to promote. But Karl is not an idiot, and while he has me in hysterics, I also feel his pain at not being able to get his point across.
I loved how in this video Karl has noticed that old people’s noses and ears carry on growing. Because a lot of makeup people who worked in TV and film in the past failed to notice this, and “old person” makeup always used to look fake because the ears and noses were the same size as young people’s. They seem to have figured it out lately though. (although people who have had nose jobs look silly when they get old, as they have old faces with tiny teenage noses).
In some ways I think Karl is more of an aspie than me, because he can take things more literally or lack perception sometimes, but in other ways I think that I have aspergers more than Karl. For example, he can do relationships and I can’t.
He has a long-term girlfriend Suzanne, who he talks about a lot on the show (she is shown illustrated but you never see her face, which is cool, as she can stay relatively anonymous). I can’t do relationships, and cannot live with anyone or let anyone close, as I am intolerant and set in my ways. I had lots of partners when I was young, but they dumped me or I dumped them, and it was usually because of me.
But from what Karl has said about Suzanne, she sounds dyspraxic to me! Apparently she is heavy-handed and bangs and clatters about. Clumsiness is classic ADHD and dyspraxia. I have this too, but if Suzanne is on the autistic spectrum as well as Karl, she might be able to tolerate living with him more than other people can and this could be the secret of their longevity.
I know a couple where the guy has Aspergers and the girl has ADHD, and they have been together for ages too. And I have known couples where one is Aspergers with ADHD and the other is ADHD only. Those combos are ok – it’s when you have two aspies together that you get fireworks!
In the above video at 4:25 Stephen reads out a section of Karl’s diary where Karl wonders if other people think in their own accent, as he himself does. I understood this immediately when I first heard the podcast years ago, and was surprised to hear Stephen ask, “What’s this? What are you talking about?” Pardon Stephen? You mean you DON’T think in words?!!
When things happen fast, I don’t think in words particularly, but if I’m just strolling through the park and think something looks weird, I will actually say in my head “That looks weird” and I’ll imagine my voice saying it, just like Karl describes in the video. But Ricky and Stephen seem to think that you’re not supposed to think in words. This prompted me to ask people about this myself.
The people I have spoken to say the same as me; that they think sometimes quickly without words, such as when you get a whole idea in just a split second, and sometimes they think in realtime dialogue. But they were all strong contenders for having ADHD! So I suspect thinking in actual words could be a symptom of ADHD. Or is it that we ALL think in words sometimes, but that people with ADHD are the only ones honest enough to admit it?!
People with ADHD/dyslexia usually cannot read faster than they speak, unless scanning classified ads for example, where they’re only picking out key words. Let me know in the comments what you think – or rather, HOW you think!
Do you think in your own accent like me and Karl?
I don’t mind commenters disagreeing with me, but I’m sick of people saying the same thing; eg: “You shouldn’t label people” etc. They clearly haven’t read the other comments. One person even admitted not having read the whole article!
I have already explained in the comments here why ASD cannot possibly be a label; because it is so diverse. And the people who insist it is a label still view ASD as a negative thing. ASD is a gift more than it is a disorder. It should be called ASG! It’s the people who think of it as a negative, who are doing the labeling.
It also seems obvious that people are commenting here without reading the Home/About page, so do not know what this site is about. If people have a hard time believing Karl Pilkington has High Functioning Aspergers (a more obvious case), then they are at the wrong site, because I believe at least half of everyone is on the AS spectrum.
I have talked to lots of people with first hand experience of living with, or working with High Functioning Aspies, who on the whole think that Karl has aspergers. The people who refute the theory seem to be those who, for example, know ONE person with aspergers, and because that person is nothing like Karl, Karl can’t possibly have aspergers!
Someone tells me that Karl’s own parents think he has Aspergers! I am still looking into that.