Thursday, May 22, 2008

Can We Be Funny?

Saturday Night Live has been making people laugh for decades. Sometimes with slapstick acuity, at other moments with precise political parody, and then, there was Eddie Murphy, in a class all his own- "delirious," "raw," and ridiculous.

Following September 11, laughter was hard to come by. For many, it was impossible. Yet, SNL's first show back, following the tragedy, helped signal a new phase in the healing process, namely, permission to laugh. Executive producer Lorne Michaels was careful not to take any liberties, thus making official the foray back to funny by asking then mayor of New York City, Rudy Guiliani, "Can we be funny?"

The perfectly pitched response from Guiliani, "Why start now?" gave us all a collective breath of a relief. People smirked. They chuckled. They glimpsed happier days ahead.

Similarly, local comedians, Sandy Asai, Shaun Bedgood, and Joe Wong, are, now, signaling that it's okay to laugh following the recent earthquakes in China as a way to help heal some of the widespread devastation (the death toll is expected to exceed 50,000 people). Moreover, these comedians are yucking it up in order to send funds to those in need. Their aptly titled show, Laugh for Relief, takes place one week from today in Cambridge at the YMCA Theater. All proceeds benefit the American Red Cross: China Earthquake Relief. The event kicks off at 8 PM, Friday, May 30; tickets are $15. For more information, call 781.859.9093 or email

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