Experiencing the transformative power of laughter thanks to Comedy Gives Back

“I never laughed so much for so long.  Each comedian gave it their all.  It is nice to see people giving their time for such a good cause.”  – Giovanna, cancer survivor

 “Laughter has been a really important part of my healing process. This was such a treat – I felt like a five-year-old at Christmas.”      -Corie-Jay, cancer survivor

As a general rule, stand-up comics are a jaded lot. So it says something when some of the biggest names in the business agreed to perform in the middle of the day for an audience of cancer patients past and present. And it says even more when they expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to share their talent, free of charge, with people who really need to laugh.

On July 27th, stand-up comics Ryan Hamilton, Godfrey, Vlad Caamano, Gina Yashere and Jimmy Carr performed in front of a standing room only crowd at the Hope & Cope Cancer Wellness Centre.

“There is such purpose to doing a show like this,” said Godfrey, a physically energetic and highly entertaining performer. “What’s great about this audience is that they are completely open; they get it.” A native of Chicago, Godfrey revealed that when his mother was going through cancer treatment, she called him frequently to make her laugh – it was the best therapy she could ask for.

Brilliant British wit Jimmy Carr, a master of word play and one-liners, gleefully made “cancer jokes”, knowing full well that the audience would laugh with him. He opened with, “We’d best get on with it. We don’t have much time. [Pause] Well I do.” And later, “I’m worried about dying up here, but given the context, that wouldn’t be so bad.”

Vlad Caamano, whose routine focused on what it was like growing up in the Bronx as the son of Spanish-speaking immigrants, and laid-back Idaho native Ryan Hamilton who had the audience in stitches describing a date in a hot air balloon, agreed that it was gratifying to perform for such a receptive audience.

“No one ever says ‘no’ to me. Every comic who’s done it has been moved by the experience,” commented Jodi Lieberman, who, along with partners Zoe Friedman and Amber J. Lawson, produced the show under the auspices of their social benefit company, Comedy Gives Back, in association with Just for Laughs. In fact, Jimmy Carr was making his third appearance at the Wellness Centre, while London native and transplanted New Yorker, Gina Yashere, whose imitations of her Nigerian mother elicited side-splitting laughter, was back for a second time.

Currently based in New York, Jodi is a native Montrealer who previously worked for 10 years as Program Director at Just for Laughs. “We created Comedy Gives Back to help the world heal through laughter. With this show at Hope & Cope, our goal is to help elevate the spirits of cancer patients and raise awareness for this wonderful organization in my hometown,” she explained. Added her partner, Zoe, “Of all the events that we do, this is my favourite. It’s a transformative experience for the audience and for the comics.”

After the show, the comics graciously signed autographs and posed with audience members for “selfies”. Fittingly, the last word went to Jimmy Carr, who said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”

For more photos, visit our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/hopecopemontreal/

To read more about the show, visit http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/hope-and-cope-comedy-show-not-just-for-laughs

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