Who We Are
the inclusion of a humorous character or scene or witty dialogue in an otherwise serious work, often to relieve tension.
Where there’s laughter…there’s hope.
Comic Relief, Inc., a 501© (3) non-profit organization, was created in 1986 by comedy writer, producer, and actor, Bob Zmuda, to raise funds to help those in need. Zmuda is best known for being the writer, producer, and faithful sidekick of famed comedian, Andy Kauffman. He knew funny. He saw the world. And he sought change. Zmuda envisioned a world where comedy was not only career, but also a cure. Clowns were brought to hospitals to elevate the moods of patients. Sayings like “laughter is the best medicine” were being tossed around. So why not build on that idea? Why couldn’t you use laughter to raise both money and the consciousness of the American people? And, with the help of a few friends, Comic Relief was born.
The idea seemed second nature, but pulling it off was going to need a little more muscle. Since it was only right that a full 100% of the proceeds would go directly to the cause, Zmuda would have to cook up a way to fund the logistics of the operation. Enter Chris Albrecht, HBO Senior Vice President during the time of big hair, loud music, and even louder shirts. Albrecht embraced Zmuda’s vision—also being a convenient catalyst for Zmuda’s desire to prevent comedic censorship. It was a match made in Hollywood.
In 1986, we saw their vision come to light. Hosted by the hard-hitting triplets of comedic genius: Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, and Robin Williams, Comic Relief showcased 47 comics and brought in upwards of $2.5 million. And from that rookie year to the last in 1998, more than $50 million was raised to create programs tailored to help those in need—making Zmuda’s vision not only a success, but a true movement. Comic Relief has become the honorary charity of the comedy community.
It’s not often that we see an honest to goodness philanthropist in action. One who uses his own success for the betterment of others—let alone rallying a whole comedic troop of the best, brightest, and funniest America has to offer behind him. Eight years have come and gone, and the time has come again to laugh our way to a cure.
In its 20th anniversary year, Comic Relief will put on a show to help raise money for the beloved city of New Orleans, helping to restore the life so harshly taken away from its residents by Hurricane Katrina—held at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas as the closing night event of The Comedy Festival. The original hosts will emcee this special evening filled with appearances by today’s hottest comedians, live segments from New Orleans, and a special showcase featuring the work of famed Crescent City filmmaker, Kenny Morrison.
Zmuda explains, “Disasters like Katrina devastate the environment and cause suffering for all forms of life, both human and animal. Comic Relief is determined to address these tragedies by benefiting everyone from the elderly to children, and pets.”