Laughter generates dollars for causes

By From page B6 | February 19, 2014

It’s said that when times get hard, “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.”

Stand-up comedians take that message to heart and five of them will share the healing power of laughter with others during the Stand Up for Kids comedy show set for Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Cameron Park Community Center in Cameron Park.

Organizer and emcee Laniea Dominguez of the Bay Area formed Comedy for Causes three years ago and contacted fellow comics Jeff Applebaum, Jimmy Shaw, Sean Williams and Dave Nunez to bring their comedy stylings to El Dorado County in a fundraiser to support the county’s Ag in the Classroom program, intended to educate students, teachers and the public about the importance of agriculture in their lives.

Proceeds from the benefit comedy show also will support PreventionWorks, which promotes safe children and healthy families by providing interactive programs, resources and connections throughout the community that focus on personal safety, anti-bullying and the primary prevention of abuse.

Philanthropic efforts are the purpose of Comedy for Causes, which serves to “turn that frown upside down” in some situations and to be an absolute godsend in others.

Dominguez, who lives in Alto Loma, began Comedy for Causes when she learned that her church was in dire financial need.

“It made me sad” to think the church may actually no longer exist without help, Dominguez said.

So help she did, recruiting like-minded comedians to help her produce upbeat, hopeful shows that find a way to make the audience laugh in the most trying of times.

Proceeds from the efforts of Comedy for Causes have paid for the funeral of a little girl whose family couldn’t afford the cost and to help pay for medical care for a child with cancer among some of the benefits.

Dominguez hopes someday to take the shows to a nationwide audience, gathering more desperately needed funds for worthy causes.

Dominguez, who works in sales for a Riverside magazine, said she became a comic “accidentally” when her coworkers, who always found themselves laughing at her antics, dared her to perform at a private country club. Her 2010 performance was a hit and by 2011 Comedy for Causes was in full bloom.

“The girls at work were always telling me I was funny, so I decided to do something with it,” recalled Dominguez.

While the importance of agriculture may not immediately strike one as a “life or death” cause, Dominguez recognizes that education of younger generations is the most important tool in the garden shed when it comes to sustaining food production locally and throughout the world.

“We want to support the Ag in the Classroom program (and PreventionWorks) because doing this sort of thing is our way of giving back,” she said. “All our shows are for good causes.”

While Dominguez and the other comedians on the bill at the Cameron Park show perform at a variety of venues, the host promised the performances on Feb. 22 will be suitable for a wide age range.

Return engagement

Last year’s performance was sold out and those attending will remember one of the comedians, Dave Nunez, who is returning this year.

“We can be raunchy, like when we perform for a bar crowd, where we might be rated R,” Dominguez said, “but in Cameron Park it will be rated PG13.”

Helping to keep it clean will be headliner Jeff Applebaum, a New York native who has performed with comedy greats such as Robin Williams, Dana Carvey and Robert Klein.

“We’ve got a great lineup planned for the Cameron Park show,” said Applebaum, who now lives in the south Bay Area. “My style of comedy is observational, about family and life, telling funny stories that people will relate to.”

Applebaum added that he is familiar with El Dorado County, although this is his first time appearing at the Stand Up for Kids show. He said supporting Ag in the Classroom is right up his alley, however.

“With a name like Applebaum and my being from the Big Apple and you guys having Apple Hill … it’s just natural,” he said.

Applebaum said comedy came to him at a young age, largely as a “defense mechanism” living in New York.

“You learn at a young age that if you are to survive in New York, you have to be loud,” he began. “When people try to mug you, if you tell them something funny, they’ll leave.”

The comic added that being funny also had the added benefit of “making the girls like you.”

Applebaum, who has two engineering degrees from MIT, also performs in “The Rat Pack is Back” theater show in San Francisco, portraying Sinatra pal Joey Bishop. Additionally, he appeared with Will Smith in the film, “Pursuit of Happyness.”

Asked what he will be featuring especially for the El Dorado County crowd, he replied, “I promise they’ll be home by 9:30.

“Actually, I have friends up in that area and it will be a good, family show with lots of laughter,” he assured.

Don’t count on being home at 9:30 p.m., once the fun gets rolling. Stand Up for Kids begins at 7:30 p.m., with the doors opening an hour earlier at 6:30 at the Community Center, 2502 Country Club Drive in Cameron Park.

Tickets are $35 per person in advance and $40 at the door. There will be drinks and appetizers available, and a silent auction and raffle will be featured. Join the laughter by visiting agintheclass-edc.org or calling 530-303-8117 to purchase tickets.

Karen Owen, executive director of the county’s Ag in the Classroom program, said organizers wish to thank the sponsors of the special evening, with “headliner sponsors” being El Dorado Disposal, the Mountain Democrat and Wells Fargo Bank. Other sponsors are AT&T, Golder Associates, Sierra Pacific Industries, Marshall Medical and Cooper, Thorne & Associates.

Pat Lakey


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