Athletes get boost through laughter
February 24, 2010 10:09 PM
After a two-year hiatus, SF State is hosting its 10th Annual Comedy Night to help raise grants and scholarships for the student athletes.
Put together by SF State Athletic Director Mike Simpson and comedian Ronnie Schell, the two-night event will feature six classic comedians telling old-school jokes on Feb. 26 and 27 at McKenna Theater.
All comedians are performing at the event for free.
"SF State (is) in the low third seat out of twelve schools in providing scholarships to student athletes," Simpson said.
Due to the unstable economy, there is a lack of corporate sponsorship in this year's comedy night. That means a majority of the money made from the event will have to come from ticket sales.
Schell, an SF State alumnus, has been part of a group that arranges benefits for various organizations through comedy. He first met Simpson when he asked for a baseball cap of the school's team. Since then, the two have been working together to help the athletic department raise money.
Because Schell had previously used stand up for benefits, he proposed that Simpson try the same tactic for the athletic department. The first comedy night was in 1998, which featured Jack Riley and Fred Willard.
Legendary comedians are frequently included in the line. Some even come out of retirement just to make a one-time appearance. As a result, all comedy nights are usually sold out by opening night.
"Very few shows have such veterans under one room," Schell said.
Although the event always attract crowds, students remain out of the loop. According to Schell, out of all the sold out shows, only about 25 SF State students have attended. Simpson said that it's quite peculiar that an event on campus to benefit students would get such low support from its constituents.
"It's a shame," Simpson said when talking about the students being apathetic to this group of comedians. "They spoke to worldwide audiences."
Kenny Wardell, the promoter for the event, said he had a hard time selling it to the younger crowd.
"The event had a tremendous response from different media," Wardell said. However, he faced difficulty when marketing the event to media stations with a younger following.
Both Simpson and Schell said that although the comedians for the events may not be familiar to the younger crowd, they made a tremendous impact during their prime. Many comedians, like Tim Conway and Tommy Smothers, who are performing this year, had their own television shows.
Along with Schell Conway and Smothers, this year's lineup will also include performers Rich Little, Will Durst, Ronnie Schell and Steve Rossi. Tickets are available online.
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