Monday, April 14, 2008

Comedians give back

Jon Stewart hosted a star-studded cast last night for an autism benefit. Comedians have a serious side. Trust me, I know.

It's not too late to give back. You can donate here or mail a check to:
New York Center for Autism Charter School
Att: 2008 Night of Too Many Stars
477 Madison Avenue, Suite 420
New York, NY 10022

USA Today reports:
Adam Sandler, Tina Fey, Sarah Silverman, Conan O'Brien, Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Will Arnett and Amy Poehler were among celebrities taking part in Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Concert for Autism Education, hosted by The Daily Show's Jon Stewart at the Beacon Theatre. The show was broadcast live on Comedy Central.

Comedians who couldn't appear in person, such as Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell and Will Ferrell (as President Bush), participated via satellite. But it was one big party for the crew at the Beacon.[...]

special raises money for a variety of schools and outreach programs for autistic children. The man organizing the laughs is comedian and cartoonist Robert Smigel, best known for his character Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Smigel's son, Daniel, is autistic. The last special, which aired in 2006, generated nearly $3 million and featured a memorable turn by Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat via satellite.

It's a welcome assignment for many. "I'm singing a really generic … opening song," said Kelsey Grammer, who was accompanied on the red carpet by wife Camille. "We do what we can."

Comedian Sarah Silverman had no reservations about participating, she said, thanks to "Smigel. He makes the whole thing happen. … And it's all people I know from different parts of my life. It's like a family reunion."

When asked how he got so many celebrities to participate, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, played by Smigel, who had his face covered so only the character could be photographed, noted one method: "I have a lot a dirt on Conan. I've seen him naked."

In fact, O'Brien was one of the dozens of performers in the opening number, which played on the importance of celebrity.

Among the anonymous individuals to take the stage were members of the Blue Man Group. But as their set proceeded, Stewart recognized a fellow comedian: King of Queens' Kevin James disguised as a member of the troupe, with the trademark blue paint. James later joined other celebrities taking calls at the phone bank.

Another surprise appearance: Connecticut's Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, a former presidential candidate, who replaced James at the phone bank and talked to host Stewart on air without realizing his ear was blue from paint left on the phone receiver. But Dodd rolled with the laughs, showing that even politicians can get into the act when it's for a good cause.
Ben Stiller, backed by Fred Armisen and Will Forte, sang a parody of "We Didn't Start the Fire" with names of donors included.

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