Liver disease is no laughing matter – unless, of course, it’s “Knock, Knock … It’s Your Liver,” a cross-Canada comedy benefit for the Canadian Liver Foundation. On Thursday March 14, Yuk Yuks Comedy Clubs will be raising awareness and funds to combat Hepatitis C and liver disease, with comedy shows in various cities taking place that evening. In Montreal, The Comedy Nest will be joining them – and elevating the event to its highest pinnacle – with a dazzling lineup of Canadian comedy: Scott Faulconbridge, David Acer, Joey Elias, Mike Paterson, Heidi Foss, Mike Ward, David Pryde and Eman.
The Canadian Liver Foundation’s mandate is “to promote liver health and to reduce the incidence and impact of all liver disease.” The CLF works with “volunteer chapters across the country to improve public awareness and understanding of liver health and liver disease, raise funds for research and reach out to liver disease patients and their families.”
Spearheading “Knock, Knock … it’s Your Liver” in Montreal is local firebrand “gypsy” Betty Esperanza, an artist/activist/filmmaker, whose myriad projects include a poetry festival, “100 Thousand Poets 4 Change,” as well as “Skateboards for Hope,” a charity that donates used and recycled skateboards to youth in Cuba and Jamaica. Her motto is, “Living life uninterrupted…”
Esperanza was overwhelmed by the immediate outpouring of support from Montreal comedians for the CLF project, describing them as “an amazing community of people … These are really brothers and sisters.” Faulconbridge, who was originally scheduled to headline the evening, instantly offered to share the bill with his pals. Likewise, Comedy Nest co-owner David Acer threw himself full-force into the venture. Esperanza was blown away by his enthusiasm. “I was dumbfounded! I said, ‘You don’t even know who I am!’” But as she explains, Acer was adamant. “’Look – you’re a small foundation. Let’s do this for Mike.’”
Acer was referring to beloved Canadian stand-up Mike MacDonald, a “Just for Laughs” veteran and CLF spokesman, who was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 2012 and is now awaiting a liver transplant. MacDonald is helping CLF “to raise awareness about the importance of testing for the hepatitis C infection.” According to CLF, MacDonald “does not know how he contracted the virus, but suspects it is possibly due to his past lifestyle and drug use.”
According to the CLF, “the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recently issued its recommendation that all adults born between 1945 and 1965 should have a one-time hepatitis C test. The CLF has extended the recommendation for testing beyond the boomer generation to those born between 1945 and 1975, taking into account immigration from countries where hepatitis C is more common.”
One of the most touching moments from last summer’s “Just for Laughs” festival was when comedian Howie Mandel, as a Gala host, invited his buddy MacDonald to join him on stage. The wheelchair bound MacDonald had courageously made the trek from Ottawa, where he now resides, just for the occasion.
“Knock, Knock … It’s Your Liver” promises to be an evening of hilarity and hope, with Montreal’s comedy royalty standing up for a fellow comedian and for this important cause. Adds Esperanza, “They’ll be raffling off some really cool prizes too!”
“Knock Knock … it’s Your Liver”
Thursday March 14, 8 p.m.
The Comedy Nest
2313 Ste. Catherine West (corner Atwater)
Tickets: $25, available on-line