Our History

Where did we come from? How did we get here? Here’s a little history lesson from your good friends at Comic Relief USA.

Timeline

1985
December 25

We have lift off!

We have lift off!
Richard Curtis, Jane Tewson and friends come up with the idea to use comedy to raise money and change lives in Africa and the UK. On Christmas Day, Comic Relief is launched live on BBC One from the Safawa refugee camp in Sudan during Noel Edmonds’ Late Late Breakfast Show. The producer is Helen Fielding (before her Bridget Jones days!).
1988
February 5

First Red Nose Day

First Red Nose Day
Lenny Henry and a group of children in Ethiopia celebrate the first ever Red Nose Day, run by Comic Relief UK. Over 150 celebrities and comedians take part as 30 million viewers watch a huge night of TV on the BBC and raise over £15 million.
1995
March 17

Comic Relief in the 1990s

Comic Relief in the 1990s
Throughout the 90s, Comic Relief UK celebrates five Red Nose Days, develops a partnership with supermarket chain Sainsbury’s – one that has sold over 50 million Red Noses, and sees hundreds of celebrities helping to raise money to save and change lives. The decade concludes with the record-breaking Red Nose Day #7, which raised over £35 million. You can learn more at Comic Relief UK.
2007
April 8

Idol Gives Back

Idol Gives Back
After over 20 years of making a difference in the UK, Comic Relief teams up with American Idol to create Idol Gives Back. This two hour TV spectacular raises more than $75 million to help children and young people living in poverty in the US and abroad. Learn more.  
2014
November 10

Across the pond

Across the pond
Comic Relief Co-founder Richard Curtis once said, "For many years, I have dreamt of bringing Red Nose Day to the US." And in 2015, the dream becomes a reality. After years of planning, Comic Relief officially moves across the pond to create Comic Relief USA (also known as Comic Relief Inc.), a registered U.S. 501(c)(3) public charity. Comic Relief USA is an independent sister organization of Comic Relief UK, but they are joined by a shared mission to drive positive change through the power of entertainment.
2015
March 2

British Airways Flying Start

British Airways Flying Start
After a successful partnership with Comic Relief in the UK, British Airways joins forces with Comic Relief USA to make an even bigger difference around the world. Funds raised through the British Airways Flying Start program goes to projects supporting kids and young people at risk within the US.  
May 21

Red Nose Day launches in the USA

Red Nose Day launches in the USA
The first Red Nose Day in America makes a big red splash, raising over $23 million for children in need, both in the US and some of the poorest communities internationally. NBC hosts a three-hour live special on NBC, and Hollywood’s biggest stars get on board to support. Game of Thrones gets musical. M&M’S joins the fun as a national partner. The Empire State Building lights up in honor of Red Nose Day. And five million Red Noses sell out from Walgreens, the official retailer, in 10 days.
2016
May 26

Red Nose Day 2016

Red Nose Day 2016
Red Nose Day returns to the USA in 2016 better and bigger than ever. Craig Ferguson hosts the live television event on NBC, Walgreens sells over 10 million Red Noses, an estimated 20 million Americans support the campaign, and Red Nose Day in School launches. In its second year on American soil, Red Nose Day raises over $36 million to help children in need.
2017
May 15

Red Nose Nation

Red Nose Nation
In May and April 2017 communities across the nation got their Noses On and did the things they love for Red Nose Day. In Montclair, NJ, two Nosey movie buffs held a 24-hour bake sale and movie marathon to raise money for kids in need. Students in Bradenton, FL write a catchy song to teach us about child poverty. Pies were flying for a good cause in Grovetown, GA. What can we say? We love Red Nose Nation.
May 25

Red Nose Day 2017: Noses On!

Red Nose Day 2017: Noses On!
Red Nose Day returns in 2017 with a brand new look and call out: Noses On! Celebrating the third annual event in the USA, the campaign brings millions of Americans together to help end child poverty — one nose at a time. NBC airs a special night of primetime TV, including the Red Nose Day Special with Chris Hardwick as host, the first-ever celebrity-edition of American Ninja Warrior for Red Nose Day, and Running Wild with Bear Grylls for Red Nose Day, which features Julia Roberts and Bear Grylls delivering live-saving vaccines to children in rural Kenya. Walgreens, the exclusive retailer of the now-iconic Red Noses, sell another 10 million of them. A partnership between The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Red Nose Day helps to reach millions on Facebook and raise a million more dollars for the campaign. By the end of May, Red Nose Day raises over $38.1 million, and counting.
September 12

Hand in Hand

Hand in Hand
After the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Comic Relief USA joined SB Projects for Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief, a telethon to raise funds and help those affected by the recent hurricanes. The the one-hour special broadcast live across multiple networks and streamed internationally on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Some of the nation's biggest stars joined to help encourage the nation to help out, including Beyoncé, George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber, Julia Roberts, Jamie Foxx, Barbra Streisand, Reese Witherspoon, Ellen Degeneres and Robert DeNiro to name a few. Comic Relief USA will manage the Hand in Hand Hurricane Relief Fund, distributing grants to a number of charity partners working in impacted areas. Learn more.