Fundraiser does double duty

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Variety’s Power of Comedy event Saturday at Club Nokia not only benefited the Noreen Fraser Foundation for cancer research, but also honored Russell Brand with the inaugural Power of Comedy Award and inadvertently begged the question of whether laughter really is the best medicine.

“It is,” the honoree confirmed. “But if you’re diabetic, still use insulin.”

Brand, who received his trophy from Helen Mirren, was simply happy to be winning something: “In England I don’t get awards. I’m a convicted criminal.”

On hand to perform were Aziz Ansari, B.J. Novak, Sarah Silverman, Nick Kroll, Garry Shandling, Bob Saget, Patton Oswalt, Brandon T. Jackson, Donald Glover, Matt Lucas and Rebel Wilson.

Host Justin Long quipped that he had to “bing Noreen Fraser” to find out what her foundation did, and would perhaps be bing-ing her a few more times. The org has promoted the importance of humor in the fight against cancer with campaigns like Men for Women Now, which advocates that men encourage women to visit their doctors in hopes of early detection. As Saget said in his set, “We’re doing this for Men for Women Now, which is also how my penis thinks.”

In a surprise appearance, Melissa Etheridge presented Fraser with a check for $50,000 from “The Sims 3″ and added her own bit of levity, saying in mock annoyance that cancer had stopped her from becoming The Face of Homosexuality by making her The Face of Cancer.

The comics, however, didn’t always stick to cancer-related fare. Shandling, for one, said, “It seems awfully coincidental to me that Sarah Palin is running in 2012, the year the Mayan calendar calls the end of the world.”

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