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Laughs to Pay Off for Those With Little to Laugh At


SAN DIEGO — Homelessness is no laughing matter, but San Diego's street people will benefit from a few laughs tonight when The Improv comedy club donates the evening's proceeds as part of the third national Comic Relief effort to help the homeless.

San Diego is one of 23 cities across the country that will hold a local comedy show to help publicize Comic Relief, a four-hour live benefit to be broadcast on HBO at 9 p.m. Saturday.

For the third year, comedians Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams will be hosts of the show, featuring scores of comedians including Gary Shandling, Alan Thicke, Martin Short, Shelley Long and Penn and Teller. Viewers will be asked to phone in pledges.

The program can be seen by all cable television viewers, not just those who receive HBO, at the request of Comic Relief.

During the past three years, Comic Relief has raised $5 million for the homeless, including sales of videos and albums made of the comedy concert. The money has provided 150,000 homeless people with food, shelter, transportation, mental-health care and medical help.

The Improv will donate tonight's $8 cover charge to help the Logan Heights Family Health Center's project, Healthcare for the Homeless. Local comedians Derrick Cameron and Steve Kelley, political cartoonist for The San Diego Union, will share the stage with Los Angeles comics Greg Otto, Jerry Miner, and Mark Cordes.

Last year, the project received $75,500 from Comic Relief, including profits from last year's Improv benefit. The Logan Heights group is the only beneficiary of Comic Relief funds in San Diego.

The health care center arranges for homeless men, women and children throughout the county to obtain needed medical care and other services. A man with a broken leg, for example, would be treated at a clinic, housed until he was ambulatory, and receive bus tokens and other information to help him get around.

The Logan Heights Family Health Center opened last May and receives funds from the federal government, as well as Comic Relief.

Tickets for the Improv benefit can be obtained by calling 483-4522 for reservations, or can be purchased in advance at the club, 832 Garnet Ave., in Pacific Beach. Dinner will be served before the show at 6:30 p.m. for $10 per person. Those purchasing general tickets will be admitted at 7:30 p.m. The show starts at 8:30 p.m.

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