Super Narcoleptic Girl is Taking Off!

By Teme Ring, ChicagoNow – January 2, 2018

Comedians Sarah Albritton and Catherine “Povs” Povinelli are telling me about the time they drove from Chicago to Sarah’s hometown, Louisville, Kentucky. Sarah drove all five and a half hours.

Povs joked about being in the passenger seat, “I risked my life!”  “And I was fine,” Sarah pointed out.  “I kept you awake,” Povs said. Sarah agreed. “She kept me awake. She made sure I was awake.”

That road trip is a good symbol of Sarah and Pov’s partnership. This Chicago dynamic duo seamlessly finishes each other’s sentences and buoys each other in friendship and work. What might be potholes to lesser spirits – severe narcolepsy, a shortage of funds – only makes these two fly higher.

Speaking of flying high, Sarah and Povs’ web series Super Narcoleptic Girlis about to launch. Sarah, who has narcolepsy in real life, plays Keelyn Klein, a superhero unfortunately labeled “Super Narcoleptic Girl” in a bureaucratic mishap. Povs plays her best friend Lee.

The story is not your typical superhero action jam. True, Keelyn is charged withsaving the day for her fellow citizens.

But Super Narcoleptic Girl is not just KABOOM and KABLAM. The show is a comedic look at a superhero living vibrantly with an invisible disability.

Sarah and Povs finished filming in August and are now in post-production. In addition to Sarah and Povs, the cast includes a wealth of Chicago talent, including Greg Hollimon (Strangers with Candy) and music by Natalie Grace Alford, Honey and the 45’s, Kristina Cottone, Bifunkal, and Cameron Ford. Sarah and Povs credit Michael McCarthy for encouraging their vision during his television pilot writing class at iO, and have shout-outs for their director of photography Jon Kline, director Larry Ziegelman and assistant director Johnny Lange.

Super Narcoleptic Girl will be released by Sarah and Povs’ production company One Step Below, Inc. at three events next month. Look for viewing and launch parties in Chicago and New York in early February and in Los Angeles at The Nerdist on February 15.

Sarah and Povs kindly spoke with me by phone about how they leapt tall production obstacles, what it takes to live well with narcolepsy, and why they’re calling their company “One Step Below.” (I never would have guessed!)

LEAPING TALL OBSTACLES

Teme: Congratulations on the series and the release date!

Sarah: Even before the trailer came out, people were congratulating us. We were like, “We haven’t done anything.” They said, “Yeah, but you’re finishing it.” So many people …

Povs: … don’t finish their projects. Our Director of Photography specifically wrote into his contract, “Come hell or high water, you will finish this project.”

Sarah: We had a very different path than we originally thought we’d have.

Teme: How so?

Povs: We had to create our own production company.

Sarah: We wanted to collaborate with a production company. We met with a couple of companies, but the timing didn’t work out. We decided to do it ourselves. We applied for a grant. Since we’re bringing awareness to narcolepsy, we thought we had a good chance. Several people familiar with the grant even told us we had a good chance of getting it.

Then we raised funds through Indiegogo so we didn’t have to wait for a “yes” or “no.” We raised over $5,000. Then we didn’t get the grant. Now we’re in post-production and funding the project on our own and reaching out to investors.

BEST HIGHLIGHTS, BIGGEST CHALLENGES

Teme: What have been the highlights and the challenges?

Povs: The main challenge has also been the main highlight. We really got to understand independent filmmaking.

Sarah: We became real filmmakers. We thought we would work with a production company and they would handle all that production-y stuff and we would just write, act, and oversee. We were low budget, so we had to get creative with a lot of stuff. For example ….

Povs: … we took a weekend and went around to the local restaurants in the areas where we were shooting. We walked in and said, “We’re independent filmmakers. Would you be willing to feed us a meal in exchange for a credit as a sponsor?”

Sarah: We had nearly all our meals for cast and crew donated from so many great places like Nando’s Peri Peri, Stan’s Coffee and Donuts, Chicago’s Dog House and several others. They were super helpful in getting our cast and crew fed.

Povs: We really appreciated all the places that let us film for free as well, like Laugh Factory, Elbo Room …

Sarah: … and my apartment.

Povs: We realized that if we didn’t take matters into our own hands, the project wasn’t going to get made. That was the most challenging thing and ended up being the most rewarding thing.

Teme: What part of the experience are you most proud of so far?

Sarah: I’d say that we’re actually going to finish it.

Povs: I taught myself how to edit.

Sarah: We couldn’t afford to pay our editor to also edit the trailer.

Povs: I said, “Ok! I can do it!”

Sarah: We had to figure out what we can and can’t do with a very limited budget. By the end, we’ll have done the eight episodes for less than 12K. But we also ended up having to cut a couple of episodes during production …

Povs: … because we ran out of money. We hope people get excited about it and want to see more. Help fund us!

Sarah: We have all these ideas for other episodes. The big dream would be to sell it to a network like Comedy Central and make it a half-hour show.

FASTER THAN A SPEEDING STEREOTYPE

Teme: Please tell me about Keelyn. Who are her nemeses?

Sarah: A lot of it is her battling narcolepsy …

Povs: … and the stereotypes …

Sarah: … that people have of it.  Insomnabro is another superhero at her agency. He and Keelyn keep showing up at the same places to save the same people, so he’s a nemesis.

Povs:  He’s the main physical nemesis. But the larger nemesis is Keelyn battling the stereotypes and people not understanding her narcolepsy.

Sarah: One of the episodes I’m proudest of is a family dinner with Keelyn’s entire family.

Povs: We meet Keelyn’s parents and her annoying younger brother who can read minds. It’s a typical WASPy dinner of superheroes.

Sarah: It deals with the idea of even parents not fully understanding narcolepsy and the fact that everyone in her family is very successful and she’s the one that is still struggling. Her younger brother saved the Dalai Lama, so she’s dealing with the super success of her family while she’s the odd one out.

I want to note that these are not my parents because my family is ridiculously supportive and awesome. My mother even came out and worked as a production assistant for four days.

Povs: Sarah’s mom helped out with the crew. It was very impressive.

Sarah: One other scene I want to talk about is when I have a love interest and have to tell him that I have narcolepsy.

Povs: That’s one of my favorite scenes! Keelyn is talking about narcolepsy and her date compares it to people not understanding improv. He compares improv to a disease.

Teme: When do you tell someone about an invisible disability when you’re dating?

Sarah: I’ve been way open about it in my stand-up, so people know already. But I used to keep it secret. I would hide it until we were sleeping together and then I needed to warn him in case something happens. If I fell asleep during sex, I wouldn’t want him to think it was his fault!

Povs: In that episode there’s a flashback to a moment where she didn’t tell someone that she has narcolepsy and the effect on that individual is very funny.

A BATTLE FOR TRUTH

Teme: What are some of Keelyn’s other challenges and victories?

Povs: The show is very realistic. It’s not …

Sarah: …. an action show. When she makes a save, it puts her one step closer to paying her rent.

Povs: An important scene is when we address how she got the name “Super Narcoleptic Girl” and doesn’t want to be defined by it.

Teme: I remember that she got the name because of a slip-up at the D.M.V.

Povs: Yes, it’s in Episode 2. It’s something her character will fight against and ultimately try to change.

Sarah: I feel like I’m always trying to prove that narcolepsy doesn’t define me. Keelyn is literally defined by it because it’s her superhero name, so she’s constantly trying to fight against it.

Teme: That’s a constant battle, the question of whether people will confuse health issues with identity.

Sarah: What’s funny is a lot of my friends almost forget about it. They forget it until I fall down in front of them and they say, oh yeah, you did say you have narcolepsy.

EVERYDAY LIFE WITH NARCOLEPSY

Teme: What are some of the things you face on a regular day with narcolepsy that people might not realize?

Sarah: When I’m awake but without medication I feel like a normal person would feel if they were up for three days straight. That’s how I feel all the time. Medication helps me be about normal. I just feel exhausted sometimes. There are other scenarios where I get really forgetful. And when I wake up I might get mixed up with reality.

Povs: I get text messages from Sarah where she doesn’t know if she’s written me something. I’ll text her back and say, “I think you’re asleep right now.”

Sarah: There are a lot of things that people don’t think about. Like it takes me forever to leave the house because I always forget stuff.  Weight is also an issue. I pushed myself this year and lost a little weight, but it’s really hard. The primary issue in narcolepsy is loss of a chemical in our brain called orexin. Orexin lets your body know that it’s had enough sleep and when you’ve had enough food. We would love to be able to address these issues in future episodes.

Povs: We touch on it in the family dinner scene where people think Sarah could just have a cup of coffee and be fine. Her mom asks her point blank, “Can I get you a cup of coffee?” And Sarah says, “It doesn’t work like that.”

Sarah: People like to try to make up simple solutions. It’s like when you’re depressed and people say, “Just work out!” and “just be happier!”

Povs: “Just don’t think about it!”

Sarah: I think it’s a common theme for people with invisible disabilities. People don’t understand it because they can’t see it. They think there must be a simple solution.

Teme: Whenever I hear the word “just,” followed by a “solution,” I always know there’s a big oversimplification coming.

Sarah: “Can’t you just set your alarm on time?” The biggest struggle for me is getting up. That’s mostly why I freelance now because it’s very hard for me to wake up consistently. But to be clear, if we had a job as writers, we will be there on time.

Povs: I have a key to Sarah’s house. I will drag her out of bed.

Teme: I’m never sure of what the motive is when people want to oversimplify a solution because clearly you’ve thought of whatever they’re about to suggest!

Sarah: They want to solve the problem for you and be that person who tells you to do that thing you never thought of.

I’ve had the reverse, too, where after shows people say to me, “I wonder if I have narcolepsy.” I’ll ask them a couple of basic questions and can suggest organizations like Wake Up Narcolepsy, Project Sleep or The Narcolepsy Network, all great organizations that can help people find a doctor and get tested.

I’m lucky that I have cataplexy. That’s the falling-down thing. Well, not exactly lucky. Only 40% of people with narcolepsy have it. I wonder if I would have been diagnosed if I didn’t have cataplexy. Some people are just more tired and don’t realize that it’s narcolepsy. We hope that if this series grows in popularity, people can be more aware.

Some doctors don’t want to diagnose narcolepsy because they say “it’s going to make your life harder.” It’s a Catch-22. If you’re not diagnosed you can’t get the medication you need, but there are a lot of complications, like it could be harder to get a driver’s license in certain states.

Teme: Are there strategies you use throughout the day that people might not see?

Sarah: I have to read books out loud or in very small increments at a time. I do a lot of audiobooks and sit in uncomfortable chairs because otherwise I’ll get sleepy. It’s just something you deal with and learn to live with.

I have to be sure I have medicine on me. I take extended release medicine every day, but there are still times when I’m tired, so I have backup medicine. Let’s say I’m out and something happens. Without the medication, I wouldn’t be able to get home.

When we were filming, we had fifteen-hour days for four days in a row and I only took two naps through the whole production. Being on my feet made me realize that as long as I had stuff to do I wouldn’t be as tired. It could also have been the adrenaline kicking in. For a narcoleptic, office jobs are a lot harder than being on your feet or interacting with people.

Teme: When you wake from a nap, do you feel refreshed? Or is it hard to get back to baseline?

Sarah: It varies. If I have very vivid dreams, I’ll sometimes have a hallucination when I first wake up. Sometimes I’ll have sleep paralysis, too. I feel like I’m paralyzed and it’s really hard to get out of it. Sleep paralysis is another thing we hope to cover in the series in the future.

Teme: How do you get out of sleep paralysis?

Sarah: In high school I used to have sleep paralysis during class every day in multiple classes. Even though I couldn’t wake up, I could hear everything that was going on in the class. Sometimes the teacher would say, “Hey, Sarah! What’s the answer to the question I just asked?” I would know the answer because I’d heard what she had asked. I just couldn’t wake up.

Sometimes someone would shake me at the end of the class when the bell rang. It’s very weird to be in this state where you can hear what’s going on, but not be able to wake up. Waking up in the morning when I was a teenager was a big issue. My dad used to yell and yell and not understand why I couldn’t wake up. He felt really bad after he realized I had narcolepsy.

ADVICE FOR CREATING A SERIES

Teme: What advice would you give to people looking to create a series?

Povs: It’s going to cost a lot more money than you think and take a lot more time than you think. But don’t rush it.

Sarah: Work with people that you get along with, that get along well with each other and are good at communicating …

Povs: … and who understand your vision …

Sarah: … and respect your vision and aren’t going to try to take that away from you.

Povs: Have fun.

Sarah: Yeah, the biggest thing is have fun with it. Make sure it’s a project you really love …

Povs: … because you’re going to be spending a lot of time on it. There was a period of time when I saw Sarah more than my boyfriend and I live with him.

Sarah: You have to be passionate about it because if you’re not, you’re not going to finish it. Make sure it’s something that’s important to you and that you find funny. This show makes us laugh and we have fun doing it. If you’re going to put that much time and money and energy into something, it better be something you fucking love and that you believe needs to be out there in the world. Don’t give up. We had a lot of road blocks …

Povs: … but we worked around them. So I’d say, passion and perseverance.

Sarah: Yes, and have a point of view. I really want to encourage people to create their own things because …

Povs: … it’s very fulfilling.

Sarah: You don’t have to wait for someone to write you a part. Write your own web series and do it yourself.

WHY “ONE STEP BELOW”?

Teme: How did you decide to name your production company “One Step Below”?

Povs: I’m so glad you asked that question.

Sarah: It took us forever to come up with that name.

Povs: Once we realized we had to make our own production company, we forever were trying to come up with a name that was unique to us. Nothing was working. One day, we were emailing everyone to announce that they had a part in the cast. Some people were getting back to us right away, but some people weren’t. We were like, what could be more important than this right now? They must be …

Sarah: … having sex right now!

Povs: Well, “fucking” was the word we used, but don’t write that. We were like, they must be fucking. The only thing more important than us is fucking. We’re one step below fucking. Oh my god, we are …

Povs and Sarah: “One Step Below”!

——————————–

Stay up to date with Super Narcoleptic Girl at SNGwebseries.com@SNGWebseries on Twitter, @SNGWebSeries on Instagram and Facebook.com/SNGwebseries.

I also spoke with Sarah and Povs in 2016 when Super Narcoleptic Girl’s journey was just beginning. You can read it here.

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Chicago Filmmakers Unleash “Super Narcoleptic Girl” Trailer

By Daniel Patton, Reel Chicago, Dec. 5, 2017

The trailer for Super Narcoleptic Girl has arrived.

The highly anticipated, Chicago-made webseries “follows the story of a low-level, narcoleptic superhero with the power to make people dance as she struggles to save the day and stay awake,” according to a press release.

Chicago Director Larry Ziegelman (Geek Lounge) helmed the series, which consists of eight episodes shot in four separate Chicago locations, including the Northside apartment of Sarah Albritton.

Albritton and collaborator Catherine “Povs” Povinelli not only cowrote and coproduced the series, but they also star as heroine Keelyn Klein and her sidekick Lee Snow.

Greg Hollimon from Strangers with Candy adds depth to the cast as The Amazing Sting, a giant character in a bee costume.

Besides entertaining viewers with their adventures, SNG will provide audiences with impromptu education about narcolepsy, a condition that affects Albritton personally.

“All of the narcoleptic elements in the series are inspired by my own personal experiences,” she says.

Scenes containing these aspects of the story, according to Ziegelman, were among the most challenging to film. “From a physical standpoint, we had to be careful,” he explains. “We wanted to make sure and do an accurate portrayal.”

But, he continues, the overall mood of the series is comedy, and the co-creators themselves are largely responsible for getting it done.

“I direct a lot of films in the geeky, superhero, pop culture realm, but Sarah and Povs are the masterminds behind this whole thing” says Ziegelman. “Their standup and improv experience gave the script an edge while keeping it lean.”

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Trailer released!

We’ve officially released our trailer for Super Narcoleptic Girl! Here it is:

As of December 6th, we’ve already had over 8,000 views of our Facebook video.

Trailer Credits:
Song: Type of Wound by Natalie Grace Alford
Sound Mixing: Kris Franzen
Special Effects: Greg Szydlowski
Trailer editing: Catherine “Povs” Povinelli
Writers and creators: Sarah Albritton and Catherine “Povs” Povinelli
Director: Larry Ziegelman
Director of Photography: Jon Kline

Actors: Sarah Albritton, Catherine “Povs” Povinelli, Greg Hollimon, Elliot Lerner, Maria Knoll Benner, John T. O’Brien, Robin Margolis, Tom Donovan, James Fisher Jr. and Kristen Lundberg.

Additional Series Cast Continue reading Trailer released!

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SCREEN Magazine – Who is Super Narcoleptic Girl?

We’re featured in an article in SCREEN Magazine!

“Who is Super Narcoleptic Girl?”
By Mike McNamara

There’s a new superhero in town, and there will never be another one like her. Meet Super Narcoleptic Girl. Created, written by and starring Sarah Albritton and Catherine “Povs” Povinelli, SUPER NARCOLEPTIC GIRL is the comedic web series about Keelyn Klein, a low-level, narcoleptic superhero with the power to make people dance as she struggles to Continue reading SCREEN Magazine – Who is Super Narcoleptic Girl?

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Halfway there!

We are officially halfway through our Indiegogo Campaign and over 60% funded for Super Narcoleptic Girl Web Series! Thanks so much to everyone who has donated so far! We are so close to getting fully funded!

Please enjoy our Thank You video below:

If you are super jealous of these awesome people getting recognition, guess what? You can get recognition too! All you have to do is DONATE!

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Indiegogo!

What? Our Indiegogo Campaign is now LIVE! We’re trying to raise $5,000 to support funding for filming costs.

Please check it out and DONATE!

We also have some awesome perks for those of you that do donate including limited edition posters, “Save the Day, Stay Awake” t-shirts, signed props, custom cat videos and much more!

Help us bring narcolepsy awareness in an entertaining way by supporting the campaign!

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PatientWorthy – The Adventures of Super Narcoleptic Girl: Save the World. Stay Awake.

The Adventures of Super Narcoleptic Girl: Save the World. Stay Awake.
PatientWorthy
By Al Pendleton – April 14, 2017

Source: www.pixabay.com

The way I see it, the film-making Nolan brothers must have been trying to one-up each other. I like to imagine them sitting on Christopher’s back deck. Obviously, it has to be Christopher’s because he’s got all that sweet money from Following (1998). It couldn’t possibly be Jonathan’s; he’s just a writer. Anyway, they must have been sitting there, listening to Prince’s “Party Like It’s 1999” and REM’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine),” scotches in one hand, cigars in the other, laughing and joking.

“What’s the craziest thing you can think of?” Jonathan inquires.

“A detective that can’t remember details,” Christopher jokes.
“No, wait. A detective that has amnesia.”
“Yes, that weird kind of amnesia that only affects the creation of new memories.”

And thus, Memento (2000) was born.

That conversation could have happened again in the summer of 2016, in Chicago, with cigarettes and chardonnay, and indie rock music playing in the background.

This time, it’s not brothers but longtime friends. The conversation between Sarah Albritton and Povs Povinelli might have started out the same way, then gone in a totally different direction:

“What’s the craziest thing you can think of?” Sarah queries.

“A superhero whose tragic flaw is totally common,” Pov ponders.

“Something like, a superhero who loses her place while fighting crime.”

“How about a superhero who gets easily distracted.”

“Yes, a superhero with ADD.”

“She needs to be relatable. You have narcolepsy. Make her a narcoleptic,” Pov triumphantly states.

“Brilliant!”

What he said…Source: www.giphy.com

And thus, Super was born.

These two writer friends continued to develop the idea. They gave their heroine, Keelyn Klein (Stan Lee did a Continue reading PatientWorthy – The Adventures of Super Narcoleptic Girl: Save the World. Stay Awake.

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Sleep Review Magazine – What Superhero Fatigue? Super Narcoleptic Girl Gets Her Own Series

What Superhero Fatigue? Super Narcoleptic Girl Gets Her Own Series

Published on

SUPER Show Logo

Keelyn Klein is a new superhero who has the power to make people dance with the snap of her fingers. Keelyn also has narcolepsy, which is a first in the superhero world. Her motto is “Save the world. Stay awake.” Unlike most superheroes whose weaknesses are considered their Achilles heel, Keelyn’s medical condition isn’t something that haunts her or threatens to unravel her. Instead, she’s a superhero with an empowering anomaly that helps her save others while fighting crime and ridiculous stereotypes about narcolepsy.

And so begins Super, an upcoming comedic web series that will be introduced as Super Narcoleptic Girl with Keelyn as the central heroine reflective of the real world, where an estimated 3 million people have narcolepsy.

The series, which is currently in pre-production, was co-created by writers Sarah Albritton and Catherine “Povs” Povinelli who are both Chicago-based standup comedians. The writing duo expects to have a trailer of the series and a release date out by Sleep Awareness Week in March.

We interviewed Albritton, who’s had narcolepsy since high school and is set to play the role of Keelyn.

SR: The series is often described as Broad City meets The Incredibles, but what’s the show about for people who are just finding out about this?

Albritton: It’s about a low-level superhero in a world where superheroes and primaries, the non-superhero people, coexist together. There are also different levels of superheroes, you have high-level superheroes like Superman and then you have low-level superheroes, like Keelyn, Super Narcoleptic Girl whose power is to make people dance by snapping her fingers. Super Narcoleptic Girl is in this place where she is trying prove herself as a superhero, and she’s struggling because she does find that narcolepsy does get in the way a little bit. But she doesn’t want to be defined by her disability, which is a struggle because her name is Super Narcoleptic Girl. There are these different elements that come into play that I have personally struggled with in my life like falling asleep during a meeting or something like that. These little tiny things that might not seem like a big deal are actually very hard like getting up in the morning, which was very hard for me too. By the way, I know all of this sounds really serious but it’s funny and fun. Keelyn also works together with Lee, who is Pov’s character. Lee is a goofy person who wishes she has superpowers and doesn’t. You also have other people in the world like InsomnaBro, who is also a low-level superhero similar to Keelyn that finds that they’re trying to save the same people sometimes. We really try to play around with the dynamic of having to prove yourself and overcome a disability. You don’t have to be defined by it and a flaw could also be an advantage.

SR: What inspired you and Povs to come up with Super Narcoleptic Girl?

Albritton: My writing partner Povs and I are friends. Last summer, we were sitting and drinking one night and she said to me, ‘Hey you would make a really awful superhero because of your narcolepsy.’ And I’m like, you’re right. So we decided we should write that. So later that week, we scheduled to write something together and we did. We really started to develop these characters, which plays on a few different things. Like my character, even though she has narcolepsy and is a superhero, her power has nothing to do with narcolepsy or at least in this iteration of the series. Her best friend Lee, who doesn’t have these superpowers or narcolepsy, kind of takes care of her. It’s a friendship-like role where both characters help each other out. So the characters have similar personalities to ours that are heightened, so that’s how the idea came about. We have a great director onboard and everything else is coming into play.

SR: Whether it’s interviewing people about sleep, sex, and dreams for your podcast Sleeping with Sarah or co-writing the web series about a superhero with narcolepsy, it seems like your experience with living with narcolepsy has been central to your work as a comedian, producer, and writer. Tell me more about that.

 Sarah Albritton and Catherine “Povs” Povinelli

Creators Sarah Albritton and Catherine “Povs” Povinelli

Albritton: With comedy and with writing, you write what you know and you write with what experiences you have. I feel like having narcolepsy has made me feel very different from other people who talk about it, and it’s something that not a lot of people are familiar with and share about from what I know. I think only 25% of people who have narcolepsy are properly diagnosed, so three-fourths of people who have narcolepsy don’t even know that they have it. So that’s my way of sharing knowledge about it, and I don’t think there is enough attention that’s brought onto invisible disabilities as a whole. I feel like a lot of people think that you’re normal and you’re fine, and I mostly am with medication. But for the most part, it is a struggle but I do get into situations that I think are funny so I think it’s pretty easy to share my experiences. It’s a really big part of who I am and I don’t think it’s good to hide that as a performer. With doing the podcast, I find out that people have a lot of weird sleep stuff. Some people have insomnia or experience sleep paralysis and it’s been great to talk to people about sleep cycles and sleep habits.

SR: Do a lot of people with sleep disorders or even narcolepsy reach out to you about their experiences?

Albritton: Yeah, it’s one of my favorite things. A lot of times it’s when I’m doing a show or after a show someone from the audience will tell me, ‘Oh, my son just got diagnosed with narcolepsy’ or ‘I have narcolepsy’ or ‘My sister has narcolepsy’ and I’ve even gotten someone who was like, ‘Hey, I think I have narcolepsy.’ I’ve talked to them and given them information about sleep specialists and have tried to help them out. It means a lot when people say stuff like that because it makes me feel like it is making a difference by just bringing awareness out there. A lot of people don’t know about narcolepsy. People don’t know that just because you don’t have cataplexy doesn’t mean that you don’t have narcolepsy. I think narcolepsy is highly misdiagnosed and by sharing [my experiences] on stage and having people talk to me about it afterwards means a lot. People also reach out to me after listening to my podcast, a couple of other comedians I know too have reached out and I talk to people on Facebook, so it’s been really great.

SR: In previous interviews, you’ve talked about how narcolepsy is misrepresented in the media. For example, I’m thinking of this movie Deuce Bigalow, in which this woman goes on a date and has her hair tied to a chair to avoid falling asleep in her soup, something like that. What are your thoughts on some of these misrepresentations of narcolepsy?

Albritton: Personally, when it’s done in a comedy film I’m not offended by it unless people actually think that it’s something that I actually do. Like eating for example, I’ve never actually fallen asleep while eating because it’s usually a thing that keeps me awake. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened to somebody. [In regards to the way the media represents narcolepsy] I am pleasantly surprised when they do something that’s accurate or try to. For example, I think in the last season of the Simpsons where Homer gets diagnosed with narcolepsy and they mention cataplexy. They even mention GHB being a medication, and there are some things that they get wrong like Homer going to a normal pharmacy to try and get GHB and it doesn’t work like that at all. But the fact that they even mentioned cataplexy that they did some research is pleasantly surprising, especially when they try to use terms that are correct. But for Super Narcoleptic Girl, I want to make it realistic in a way that I have personally experienced narcolepsy and I understand that everyone is going to have their own feelings about it.

SR: How do you hope your web series impacts the way narcolepsy is portrayed in film and media? Is it your hope that your series is going to spark a different conversation about narcolepsy?

Albritton: Absolutely, I think that we do need to talk about narcolepsy differently. There aren’t many shows that cover invisible disabilities. In fact, Maria Bamford’s new show Lady Dynamite on Netflix is the only one I can think of at the moment because she has bipolar disorder. But other than that, I can’t think of any other TV show that talks about invisible disabilities like you can’t see it. I look like a normal person but I struggle every single day. People don’t seem to understand that or get that connection. When I was in high school, people used to assume that I was lazy and put this stereotype on me that I was this lazy person. I got very good grades in school and even though I was sleeping through a lot of my classes, the lowest grade I’ve ever gotten was like a C. I used to have this teacher who used to spray kids with this water bottle when they fell asleep. I had another history teacher who would just show movies all the time, and once I got diagnosed with narcolepsy I gave him a note and explained things, and basically anytime anyone would fall asleep they got an F for the day. There were people who treated me differently and even chose not to believe me and thought I was making it up and assumed I was lazy. I think that’s a reason why I try to do a lot. I have podcast, I’ve written a couple of pilots, I have this web series, and I do standup. I’m definitely not lazy and don’t feel lazy. That’s one thing we do touch upon in Super Narcoleptic Girl because her trigger word is lazy. She hates being called lazy and that’s something she does not want to be identified with. I want people to relate to these characters and have a character that relates to them. The show’s characters are imperfect and some have invisible disabilities and are still kicking ass and saving the day. I think it’s important for people to have positive role models and the thing is this series isn’t just about narcolepsy. It’s not like this is a character with narcolepsy that is a token character in a sitcom. No, no, no. This is the main character and she happens to have narcolepsy. That’s not all of who she is and I think that’s a big thing. In a lot of shows, when somebody has a disability then it’s this token thing like their disability is their storyline. That’s how it used to be for LGBTQ characters and then that made a shift and I would like that shift to happen with characters with disabilities.

SR: So you had your first staged reading in Chicago a couple months ago, how did that go?

Albritton: That was awesome it went really well. We had a great cast, we had Greg Hollimon from Strangers with Candy and he happened to be in town so read for one of the roles so that was really awesome. We also got some great performers like Kristen Lundberg, Elliot Lerner, Amanda Lynn Deal, Charles Belt, Tom Donovan, James Zekis, and a bunch of super talented people who read with us. We’re hoping to do other readings in New York and LA to move forward with more representation.

Continue reading Sleep Review Magazine – What Superhero Fatigue? Super Narcoleptic Girl Gets Her Own Series

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