Now Reading: My AUTISM Review of the “Night of Too Many Stars” Event

My AUTISM Review of the “Night of Too Many Stars” Event

Hey guys,

So I had the honor of attending HBO’s Night of Too Many Stars event at the Theater at Madison Square Garden this past Saturday night.This was a 2 hour benefit / telethon hosted by Jon Stewart to support the organization Next for Autism.

NEXT for AUTISM is a non-profit organization that transforms the national landscape of services for people with autism by strategically designing, launching and supporting innovative programs.

If you didn’t get a chance to watch the show you can watch it on HBO GO and HBO Now.


You can also view the entire 2+ hour event for free on youtube below or HERE.  HBO put the whole thing up for free.

Why was I in the audience you ask?

I got a free “press” ticket from a friend of mine who works at HBO and has been a long time Autism Daddy supporter and follower.

What follows is my unbiased review.

However, let me say straight away that I am not going to review the comedy of this event.  I’m a huge John Stewart fan… and don’t mind raunchy foul mouthed comedy.  And because this was on HBO, at 8pm on a Sunday night, I expected and was looking forward to lots of F bombs and MF-ers.

And that is just what I got.  I had no problem with the comedy.

I personally thought the show was fabulous and hilarious.

If you want to read a good review of the comedy of the show, read Vulture’s great article The Highs and Lows of Night of Too Many Stars, Jon Stewart’s Autism Benefit Show for a complete blow by blow of the 2 hour show.

I’m here, however, to review/recap the autism related portions of the show.  And I thought that these were equally fabulous.

Jon Stewart started the night off by explaining what’s different about the organization Next for Autism.

He explained that while many organizations engage in advocacy or fund scientific research, NEXT For AUTISM addresses the needs of people with autism and their families across the country, right now. They create and support exceptional educational, clinical, and vocational programs, all cutting-edge, all with an eye towards affecting fundamental shifts in current approaches to autism services.

And then throughout the night they showed several films that captured stories of autism families and individuals and how Next helps them.

My favorites of these films were:

Felicia Johnson, a mom of a son with autism, Josiah.  She explained how she lost her home, her husband, and then her son was diagnosed with autism.  Then an organization DAMAR Services – gave a helping hand. 

Former private investigator Dennis Debbaudt discusses how his son with autism shaped his life and how that lead to formulating and training criminal justice professionals, police, and emergency responders on how to respond to autism.

And then there was Carly Fleischmann.  When I first heard that Carly was going to be on the show I googled her to see what she’s been up to lately.

I had seen her famous interview with Channing Tatum, but I didn’t know that she had since gone on to interview a bunch of other celebreities and has her own web talk show, Speechless with Carly Fleischmann.

So I assumed that they would show a film about Carly and maybe she would be in the audience.  They did show a film about Carly.  This film.

And while this film was playing I’m sitting in my seat at the Theater watching them wheel out a talk show desk and chair.

And then I realize that Carly is going to do a live interview with someone.

And then out walks Carly and Stephen Colbert, and my first thought was “Way to go Carly!”

And then my next thought was “wow, interviewing someone in her home has got to be way different than interviewing someone on live television in front of an audience of 2000 people!”

And then the film ended, the lights went up, and there was Carly interviewing Stephen Colbert.


And all went ok for a moment, but then Carly’s autism kinda took over, or actually Carly’s OCD took over and she got distracted by the hundreds of pieced of paper confetti that littered the stage (because of an America’s Got Talent spoof comedy bit earlier in the night).  And the next thing you know Carly is down on the floor distracted by the paper


And one of her aides came out to try and redirect her…


but the damage was done, and Carly couldn’t be redirected.
So Stephen Colbert calmly motioned to the band, “The Roots” to start playing which they did.  And the HBO team quickly regrouped and went to the next celebrity filmed piece.
Entertainment Weekly has a good article on the whole incident and the amazing way that it was handled by everyone involved.

From that article:

Fleischmann’s interview was cut short when she became distracted by golden confetti on the stage due to her OCD, prompting Stewart to talk about the challenges of doing talk show segments live, and to joke that it used to take three weeks to film one episode of The Daily Show. 
“It also shows you something really important because she is a brilliant interviewer and a really funny person, and people with autism have challenges and obstacles to get through,” Stewart said. He went on to take the blame for the way the segment went, calling himself an “a—hole” for shooting the golden confetti out onto the stage earlier in the show. “She’s awesome and she’s super-funny and smart,” he added.Colbert also approached Fleischmann in the audience later to explain further and promise to do the interview at another time. 

“I wanted you to know that Carly’s distraction had nothing to do with her autism and has everything to do with her OCD,” Colbert said. “And I really want to do this interview with Carly. I got a peek at her questions and honest to god this was going to be a real interview and we’re going to do it in the future.” 

Colbert said the questions Fleischman wrote were “hilarious” and then joked, “No matter what happened, at least you didn’t bring out Sean Spicer” — a reference to Colbert’s poorly received stunt when hosting the Emmys in September.

The whole thing was handled extremely well by everyone involved.
And, as the dad of a kid with severe autism it was, honestly, my favorite moment of the night.
Why, you ask?
Well, of course in my heart of hearts I was rooting for Carly to do well.
And while it would have been much better television to see Carly conduct a funny interview with Stephen Colbert, I was sort of happy that the world got to see that, even the kids who have these miraculous amazing stories still struggle mightily every day.
The last autism moment of the night was the big finale.  The big musical number with  Jodi DiPiazza, a young woman with autism and the Actionplay Chorus, a choir of kids on the spectrum, singing “Rise Up” with British singer/ actress Cynthia Erivo

It was truly magical.

And that moment when all the parents came out and stood just behind their kids on stage is when I kinda lost it, but there really wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

That’s it.  That’s my review / recap.

So happy and honored that I was able to attend.

What can I say?  A great autism event which already has raised over 2 million dollars, and the money keeps rolling in… and all for a great and important cause!

If you’d like to donate you can donate online at or text Text STARS to 50555 to give $25

Thanks…  Autism Daddy, over and out!


Written by

Frank Campagna

I’m a 48 year old neurotypical dad with a 14 year old son with severe, non-verbal autism & epilepsy. I created this blog to rant about autism & epilepsy while celebrating my son who I affectionately call “the king” :-).

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2 People Replies to “My AUTISM Review of the “Night of Too Many Stars” Event”

  1. Anonymous

    I feel the same way. AS much as I wanted her to succeed a part of me really liked that people could see it's not just this miracle story. There's a lot of work still involved

  2. Amazing, and incredible. I'm so glad you got to be in the audience! Consider me full of jealousy but also beaming to be associated with you in any way. I've been following Carly's story for a long time and am so glad they handled it with grace and kindness. What an awesome example to everyone else. I wonder what Carly's opinion on the night was, too.