Laughing matters at awareness booster

Comedy Impact Report 2011

If breast cancer is currently perceived to be a “women’s issue,” the Noreen Fraser Foundation is determined to make sure that everyone else — especially men — gets involved in raising awareness.

“Men have not been asked to be a part of women’s health,” explains the org’s namesake and founder, Noreen Fraser. “Men want to be proactive. They love the idea of reaching out to the women they love — wife, mom, daughter, grandmother — and reminding them of the importance of making their appointment for their mammogram and pap smears. It feels good to be of service.”

To help raise awareness, as well as money for the cause, Fraser partnered with Variety to create an annual stand-up showcase that would make humor the lead-in to the subject. “Comedy gets your attention, and then there’s the one-two punch: Get a mammogram and pap smear,” Fraser says.

Now in its second year, Variety’s Power of Comedy event, has both philanthropic and industry aims, benefiting NFF while honoring comedy superstar Amy Poehler. Presented by the Sims 3 and sponsored by E! Entertainment and Skype, the evening boasts a powerhouse lineup featuring sets by more than a dozen comedians, including returning performer Nick Kroll, who admires NFF’s ability to raise awareness while “still making the events fun.”

Since last year, the org augmented its efforts with its Men for Women Now initiative, which offers an outlet for men to address their feelings and experiences with breast cancer. “I think it’s important because it’s something that affects all of us,” Kroll says. “And selfishly, I just want to keep breasts as beautiful as possible.”

According to Fraser, integrating entertainment and activism into a fun, thought-provoking experience is the essence of NFF’s approach.

“Using comedy to create awareness of what you need to do as a woman to be on top of your health is a natural choice,” she says. “So any time we can get someone to say ‘Men for Women Now’ or ‘women’s cancer research’ or ‘the Noreen Fraser Foundation,’ they are bringing the public one step closer to becoming proactive about their health.”

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