For a cause as serious as cancer detection, Variety assembles a starry night of levity
Now in its fourth year, Variety’s Power of Comedy event recruits a lineup of standup and sketch acts to raise money for the Noreen Fraser Foundation.
While fundraising never hurts, the org is just as committed to raising awareness.
An unfl appable cancer survivor, Fraser launched the foundation to support women’s cancer research and programs that trumpet the importance of early detection. Her efforts hinge on a simple philosophy: “Laughter is the best medicine,” she says. “So much research has been done over the years showing that if you laugh, you create endorphins, and the more you laugh, the better you feel.”
This year’s event honors Jimmy Kimmel, who follows past Power of Comedy honorees Russell Brand, Amy Poehler and Seth MacFarlane, and will feature fresh jokes from half a dozen comics, including last year’s host, Joel McHale.
Getting serious for a moment, McHale reveals that the issue has personal significance for him. “My dad had prostate cancer, my aunt died of brain cancer, and one of my closest friend’s 4-year-old died of cancer ,” he explains. “Cancer is everywhere. No family in America is unaffected by it, which is why this event — and the need to laugh — is so important.”
McHale says he’s honored that Kimmel asked him to participate. “I just hope to God he doesn’t catch cancer during the show. That’d be horrible,” he quips.
Fraser says that from the start, comedians have been a big part of what the foundation does. “We have them doing bits on our website and use them as Mother’s Day cards, so people can choose Will Ferrell or Jack Black or whoever, and the cards are free,” she notes. Along with the comedy comes a very serious message. “They all end their bits with a plea: ‘Go make an appointment for your mammogram and pap smear.’ We really stress the importance of early detection and prevention, because if you catch these cancers at Stage One, there’s a 95% chance that they’ll never come back ,” she says. “You can really save your life that way.”
Fraser sees the Avalon as the ideal location for the event. “We have all the tables on the floor, and you’re up close and personal and can see everyone’s face ,” she says. “And it’s funny as hell, with each comedian trying to top the last one.
“It’s also a unique event in a town full of fundraisers,” Fraser adds. “No one else does this — laughing for charity.”
Nearly 600 are expected to attend the event, presented by Xbox One.
Variety publisher Michelle Sobrino-Stearns calls the caliber of talent for the fourth annual Power of Comedy event truly outstanding. “We are thrilled to have Jeff Ross and so many wonderful performers join us in raising awareness for the Noreen Fraser Foundation,” she says. “With Xbox One, Amazon Studios, Skype, Guinness and Johnnie Walker generously providing their support to such a worthy cause, this is sure to be a memorable event — and also one of the funniest rooms in Hollywood that night.”
WHAT: Variety’s Power of Comedy presented by Xbox One
WHERE: Avalon Hollywood, L.A.
WHEN: 8 p.m., Nov. 16