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Comedians To Help Abused Children

July 10, 1987

"Funny Money," a benefit turing 10 comedians, will be an evening of comedy that's not just for laughs. The San Diego Child Abuse Prevention Foundation hopes to raise $5,000 for local child abuse agencies from the event at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art's Sherwood Auditorium on Monday at 8 p.m.

"This is an unusual benefit," said Mimi Groom, executive director of the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation. "Child abuse is not a laughing matter, but we have a lot of events that are out of the ordinary, and they seem to go over big."

One of these events is an annual underwater pumpkin-carving contest in October. Groom said the benefits not only raise funds for the foundation but also help educate the community about child abuse.

According to Suze Benzon, "Funny Money" chairwoman, San Diego has one of the largest numbers of reported cases of child abuse in the country.

For Steve Kelley, amateur stand-up comic and political cartoonist for the San Diego Union, the benefit is a way for people to enjoy themselves while donating to a worthy cause.

"The project is actually based on 'comic relief,' a method used in Los Angeles to raise money for the homeless," he said. "When I came up with the idea, I wanted the money to go to a local organization. $5,000 would be a drop in the bucket to a large group like the Cancer Society, but it could really do some good for the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation.

"It's also a great way to expose San Diegans to our wealth of comedians. It might even get people who weren't interested in comedy before to come down to the Improv or the Comedy Store."

Some of the comedians performing are local favorites Russ T. Nailz and Rick Rockwell as well as Kelley himself. Argus Hamilton, a regular stand-up comic at the Los Angeles Comedy Store, will act as emcee.

Rockwell, a morning disc jockey for radio station KWLT-FM and a seven year stand-up comic veteran, regularly performs for charities.

"My favorite charity is the Children's Hospital, so this is kind of the same thing," he said.

Rockwell said he is going to use the theme of children growing up today for his routine.

"There's nothing funny about kids getting beaten, so I certainly won't use that," he said. "But I want the audience to be thinking about children while watching my performance."

"It should be a perfect night," Kelley said. "And if we reach our goal, maybe we can make it an annual thing."

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