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Here's One Benefit That's No Joke

March 07, 1993|EMILY ADAMS

Carl Wolfson has a joke for just about everything.

On the economy: "They asked (President) Clinton how to go about opening a small business in the United States. He told them to open a big business and wait."

On the presidential pension: "George Bush says his pension isn't enough money to live on. Like we're going to see Bush on the corner with a sign: 'Will bomb Iraq for food.' "

On education: "You know, they ask junior high school kids in Los Angeles every year to name as many Presidents and as many beers as they can. Last year was the best: They named an average of 4.8 Presidents and 5.2 beers. You can just imagine the dialogue on campus: 'Who's running against Bush?' 'Bush lite.' "

What Wolfson lacks, he admits, is a good bit on kidney disease, a hole in his act likely to show up at this evening's benefit for the National Kidney Foundation at the Comedy Club in Long Beach.

"I had a kidney stone in 1988," he said. "Does that count?"

Well, no, kidney stones don't count, says Bill Winberg, president of the National Kidney Foundation's Coastline Chapter.

But as far as Winberg is concerned, kidney jokes aren't necessary. He heard enough of those during two years of dialysis treatments for his own failing kidneys.

"When you're hooked up to a dialysis machine three times a week, four hours at a time, you end up making fun of a lot of things," Winberg said. "And the people you see there every week--the other patients--they become like a family."

Winberg, 33, escaped the dialysis machine 10 years ago with a kidney transplant. But that familial feeling among patients kept him active in the fight against kidney disease, he said.

He said the money raised in this annual event will aid the National Kidney Foundation in research, organizing support groups and offering summer camps for young kidney patients. About 900,000 Southern Californians suffer from kidney disease.

In an agreement with the Comedy Club--which opens its 240-seat club regularly to benefits for worthy causes--all of the $20 admission fee will go to the Kidney Foundation. Bar receipts go to the club, said Melissa Winter, Comedy Club general manager.

Carl Wolfson, who appeared regularly on the late-night talk shows "Thicke of the Night" with Alan Thicke and "Late Night with Joan Rivers," is donating his time, along with comedian Tom McGillen. McGillen is best known for his imitations of badly dubbed movies, where the actors' mouths rarely match the dialogue, Winter said.

The Comedy Club is located at 49 S. Pine Ave. in Long Beach. The show starts at 5 p.m. For more information: (714) 962-7675.

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