Out, ally comedians to raise funds for William Way

Comic Cure: Comedy for a Cause is bringing its Pride Comedy Festival to Philadelphia March 15. The showcase of LGBTQIAP and ally comedians will perform to benefit William Way LGBT Community Center.

Comedian Richy Leis, creative director of Comic Cure, and his brother Benjamin Leis, managing director, founded the organization in September 2015 with the goal of producing live comedic events that both showcase talent and raise awareness about worthy causes.

“I come from more than 15 years of nonprofit work and my brother comes from 15 years in the comedy business,” Benjamin said. “So what we wanted to do was blend both of our passions and use the unifying power of laughter to uplift and engage communities around related topics. We do that by partnering with local comedians and local charities. While we’re allies, we’ve been close to the LGBT community through friends and family. It’s always a cause and important topical issue that needs attention and support.”

The event will feature comedians from across the region, including Philadelphia and New York.

Richy said they sought out local and national performers who are more than just humorous on stage. 

“We look for performers who are LGBT and allies linked to the community that relate to topics that are going on,” he said. “Right now it’s not enough to be funny. You have to be three things: funny, supportive and professional. What we find is those comedians that really shine, they cover all three of those things. One of the best things about these micro-fests and these shows that we put on is you see the [performer’s] video and you put someone in the show and you find out they are even beyond what you saw in the video. When you meet them personally and they perform live, it’s something different.”      

Richy added that he hopes this festival will attract people who normally wouldn’t attend a typical comedy-club-style show.

“I think it’s an added appeal to someone that might see comedy in a different light or might have only seen standup on TV, where it’s only funny to a certain point,” he said. “There is an added appeal that there’s a nonprofit to support and there’s a community that’s coming together to do something amazing. There’s the unifying power of laughter.”

Both Benjamin and Richy agree that events like the Pride Comedy Festival are more crucial than ever in these uncertain times.

“It’s always important to have events like this, but right now in our political climate it’s more important than ever to get the word out about what’s going on and come together as people,” Richy said. “People are coming together about different topics in different ways and a lot of times it’s a little more serious. So as funny and humorous as we are, it definitely makes a statement.”

“Humor is one of the last methods of communication where you can talk about hot-button political issues without fear and consequences,” Benjamin added. “What we love about doing these events is that it’s a safe space for people to come together and talk about things that you normally wouldn’t talk about in front of a large audience. We just wrapped up a big festival in California and one of the topics we talked about was immigration and we had 20 comedians that lived in the United States and had emigrated here from 15 different countries. It’s such a hot-topic issue and it was just really cool to see everyone laughing and coming together. Afterwards, the response all the comedians got with the audience relating to them, that is truly what we’re after. We’ve done Pride shows in Miami and Los Angeles and the response has been great. We’re expecting the same in Philadelphia.”

The Pride Comedy Festival features headliner Frank Liotti, hosts Alejandro Morales and Louis “Twitchels” Centanni and many more local and regional comedians. Shows will be held 7 and 9 p.m. March 16 at Frank Bradley’s, 1320 Chancellor St. For more information or tickets, call 215-735-0735 or visit http://comiccure.com/events/nationwide/pride-comedy-festival/.

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