Laugh for Lives archives: 2011
One of the marquis fundraising and consciousness-raising events in the AADP stable, Laugh for Lives is an exciting stand-up comedy show that features a variety of the top Asian American comedians. To celebrate the 5th Anniversary of LFL, we’ve decided to do a multi-post retrospective on it. Not only is it a fun look back at the show, it’s a hint of the hilarity that’s gonna hit again this March 2, 2012! Save the date everyone and buy your ticket here.
It’s also an opportunity to see how the event has grown and changed over the years, and get some new creative ideas for promotional events, some behind the scenes tips about Laugh for Lives, and a more serious look at the function of this comedy extravaganza.
First, here’s a look at this year’s postcard design and a flashback to last year’s show:
LFL’s youthful boisterous appeal
One of the key things that makes AADP’s work successful is the ability to connect with the young people in the community. Of course, getting people to register as donors when they’re young is ideal for many who do recruitment, because it’s more likely they’re in good health and suitable donors in this respect. And they’ll be on the registry longer.
In order to connect with a certain key demographic of donors, you need to know the cultural touchstones that are going to bring out a crowd of people. Stand-up comedy is a great medium to achieve this connection. Part of this has to do with the fact that the performers–especially the working comics who are pounding the pavement and have achieved some level of fame but aren’t so huge that they’re inaccessible for AADP to book them–are on the younger end themselves. It’s no coincidence that stand up comedians often do college tours. Not only are the comics who gain viral footholds doing so with a younger demographics, but it’s that often, they achieve a sort of cult following within Asian American communities, and beyond.
There’s still a long way to go in getting Asian American talent recognized, and providing a platform for these up and coming funnymen AND women (though it’s still skewed sadly. See one of my favorite blogs, Rip it to Shreds for some great Women in Comedy commentary here, here and here), is another valuable aspect of LFL. It rallies people to this platform while achieving AADP’s main purpose of the event to increase awareness about marrow/stem cell donation and the importance of minorities in the donor pool AND raise funds to keep the registry accessible to everyone through ticket sales.
What’s particularly notable about some of these comedians is their oft off-color approach, unafraid to be sexually explicit, prolific with profanity, courting controversy, and willing to engage with or exploit racial politics. Then, they seamlessly toggle from raw ribaldry to heartfelt solidarity with AADP’s cause. And the audience does so too.
In having attended the event myself in past, I’ve always been fascinated by how it melds performance, personal reflection, and awareness. Prior to the event, there’s a slideshow with patient pictures, along with sponsor messages. LFL always has a patient or donor come on stage midway through the show to share their story. One year I particularly was impressed with was a young man who had survived because of a bone marrow transplant and read a touching speech about his experience, and then proceeded to a bust a serious move with his sister showing some incredible dancing skills!
I think that LFL takes these very serious issues–patients fighting for survival, encouraging more donors from multiethnic communities, and the enduring legacy of patients who have both been saved by a transplant or lost the battle–and recontextualizes them in a space where people are also free to have an incredible cathartic release. Whether that is through the comedian’s power to say the taboos that most of us are too afraid to vocalize ourselves, or rearticulate pain through humor, or just the sheer silliness that we don’t allow ourselves in our daily lives, it is socially gratifying to be able to do this communally. LFL binds all these people together either because of the appeal of the stand up comedy experience itself, supporting Asian American performers, or the alignment with AADP’s mission. Therefore, every permutation of this event always makes for both a riveting and riotously fun experience.
Oh crap. Did I sap all the fun out a comedy show? Let’s hope not. We can remedy that by sharing a few samples of this year’s performers:
Danny Cho’s comedy offerings.
And the evening’s MC, Zhangster has got some stand-up chops too.
Keep it locked here to get more cool materials from our Laugh for Lives 5 year retrospective! Again, tickets here.