Comedy, Adlink Back Cancer Research

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Comedy Central is still serious about laughter. The network is teaming with Adlink for a Sept. 27 fundraising event, proceeds from which will help fund the UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center's "Rx Laughter" scientific study.

That five-year study will examine the effects of humor and laughter on the immune systems of children and adolescents.

Comedy executive vice president of corporate communications Tony Fox said network president Larry Divney okayed a $75,000 seed grant for the study in 2000 and another $20,000 last year. This year, Fox felt a fundraiser would be a better way to generate funds for the study, and contacted Los Angeles interconnect Adlink about partnering on the first "Comedy Rx Fundraiser Benefiting Rx Laughter."

He also contacted representatives for comics Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond), scheduled to headline the event at UCLA's Royce Hall, and Kevin James (The King of Queens), who will also appear.

Comedy Central has long put the "Comedy Rx" tag on comedians' hospital appearances and various charitable affiliate promotions, including one with Viewer's Choice in 1999 that had cable systems donate some pay-per-view revenue from Patch Adams, a film about a doctor (Robin Williams) who uses humor to help treat sick patients.

'LAUGH RIOTS' LINK

Fox cited Adlink's expertise and success in putting together the "Laugh Riots" standup comedy competition, now in its fourth year. "Adlink has been making some serious ad revenues" with that event, he said — about $4 million last year.

With 1,800 seats and three price tiers (from $30 to $125 per ticket), ticket sales could generate up to $100,000, Adlink director of promotional marketing Doug Smoller said.

Health care provider PacifiCare and Wolfgang Puck Wood-Fired Pizza are co-sponsors of the event and post-event reception, with on-stage and on-site logo banners and space in the event program brochure.

Adlink also will run sponsor-tagged promo spots and online banners to promote the fundraiser — Adlink's first pro-social effort — and will distribute promo postcards at three L.A. comedy clubs.

Should the fundraiser prove successful, it could become an annual event. Smoller already is considering signing a deal with an auto sponsor for 2003, with additional funds donated based on test drives during the promo period.

Comedy also is interested in the possibility of participating in a digital hospital network that Rx Laughter founder Sherry Hilber, a former ABC executive, is assembling for the Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA, Fox said.

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