Because they’re shellfish.
It’s no coincidence that National Humor Month begins with April Fool’s Day, a day which has sanctioned frivolity and amusement for hundreds of years.
“National Humor Month was conceived as a means to heighten public awareness of the therapeutic value of humor. Laughter and joy – the benchmarks of humor – lead to improved well-being, boosted morale, increased communication skills and an enriched quality of life. Humor as a tool to lift ailing spirits is an established notion supported by scientific research. The curative power of laughter and its ability to relieve debilitating stress and burnout may indeed be one of the great medical discoveries of our times.” (National Humor Month)
In celebration of National Humor Month, Caught in the Act celebrates the unshellfish (yuck-yuck) charity of a few of the countless jokesters who take – and took – raising money for worthy causes very seriously.
“Unsure of his life’s direction, a young Danny Thomas sought guidance from St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes. If the saint would point to the path he should take, Danny vowed to build a shrine in his name. Success followed Danny’s plea and soon after, the legendary entertainer set about fulfilling his vow to St. Jude. The result was St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,” according to the website. Today, Thomas’ vision is larger than even he could have imagined. The world-class pediatric treatment and research facility in Memphis, Tenn., treats nearly 8,000 patients every year – none of whom are charged for their care. The non-profit’s $2.2 million daily operating costs are covered by the generosity of millions. Thomas’ daughter and funny lady Marlo Thomas, best known for her ‘60s sitcom That Girl and as Rachel’s mother on Friends, now serves as the hospital’s national outreach director and appears in many of its commercials.
Most know Poehler from her hilarious turns on Saturday Night Live, hosting the Golden Globe awards and from the iconic and underrated series Parks and Recreation (“We have to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles and work. Or waffles, friends, work. But work has to come third.”). It should come as little surprise that she is a strong advocate for young women and girls. Along with producer Meredith Walker, Poehler founded Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls as a way to encourage young people to cultivate their true selves. Smart Girls started as a YouTube channel and evolved to include a Tumblr page and an educational website featuring interviews with smart women from all walks of life. The site also features how-to programs, mini-documentaries and Modern Manners, a show that teaches the everyday girl how to do things for an everyday life.
Beloved by the French and famous as the original Nutty Professor, and as half of the legendary comedy duo with Dean Martin, Lewis (“Laaady!”) will always be remembered as the host of the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon. After 44 years, Lewis stepped away from hosting duties in 2010 – but not before helping to raise more than $2 billion for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Actor and funnyman Kevin Hart continues the annual tradition hosting the multi-platform MDA Kevin Hart Kids Telethon featuring Hart and cast of his celebrity friends.
Well-known to many from his eponymous sitcom The George Lopez Show, Lopez has a vested interest in the continued awareness of kidney disease. Diagnosed with a genetic condition that caused his kidneys to deteriorate, he received a kidney from his then-wife in 2005. Now healthy, he has become a leading advocate for the cause. The George Lopez Foundation has raised millions of dollars to create positive, permanent change for underprivileged children, adults and military families confronting challenges in education and health, as well as increasing community awareness about kidney disease and organ donation.
Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, and Whoopi Goldberg
The trio hosted the somewhat regular Comic Relief specials which aired mainly on HBO beginning in 1986, with the goal to raise funds to help those in need—particularly America’s homeless. By the time of its dissolution in 2011, Comic Relief had distributed nearly $50 million toward providing assistance to homeless people throughout the United States.
“Between 1941 and 1991, the legendary comedian headlined 57 different tours with the United Service Organizations (USO), traveling the world to entertain American service men and women in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and dozens of points in between. During his half-century of service to the USO, Hope is reported to have spent Christmas Day overseas with troops 48 times. As a result of his dedication to the cause, in 1997 the U.S. Congress officially made Hope the first (and so far, only) person to ever be named an honorary veteran of the U.S. armed forces.” (Mental Floss)
Oh, and then there is this … Comedy Gives Back was created 10 years ago by comedians Zoe Friedman, Amber J. Lawson and Jodi Lieberman to aid their brethren who need financial or mental health support. That need became more urgent during the pandemic with stand-up gigs drying up for many who work local comedy clubs and performance halls. In the past year, there have been multiple fundraisers nationwide, including Laugh Aid featuring Jimmy Fallon, Whitney Cummings, Bert Kreischer, Patton Oswalt and more that raised more than $400,000 to support the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. In the last 11 months, Comedy Gives Back has been awarding $500 grants to comics who have lost income during the pandemic.
Also see: Red Nose Day – A Campaign to End Child Poverty