A COMEDIAN'S GUIDE TO ORGANIZING A CANCER FIGHTING COMEDY SHOW BY: lIAM lEONARD

Matt Gray, a 29-year-old amateur comedian, has more than stage experience to back up his claim that comedy is the “funnest thing ever.” His words are also supported by the experience of successfully organizing a comedy show and reflecting on the personal growth that came as a result.

A Comedian’s Guide to the Galaxy, which took place on Oct. 30 at Zaphod Beeblebrox Nightclub, was professional body piercer Gray’s first attempt at organizing and hosting a comedy show.

"Zaphod's is a cooler looking place than most bars."

Feeling limited by the often tight schedules of open-mics, he conceived of the event as a way for him and his friends to get more stage time.

Gerry Hodges, who has been performing comedy for over a decade, says he still finds it fullfilling even when there's not much of an audience.

It became more than a platform for comedic experience when he decided that all proceeds from the show would be donated to charity.

Inspiring More than Laughter

Gray, whose girlfriend was suffering from leukemia at the time of the show’s conception, saw that the show had potential to benefit more than just aspiring comedians. He arranged for ticket sales to go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada.

The 63 people who showed up raised $180.

A group gathers to support a good cause - and maybe even get a few laughs.

"You Get to Turn off 'You' and be Something Else

Gray, who regularly performs to crowds smaller than 10, appreciated the larger audience, but he says his love of being on stage is not determined by the amount of people watching.

“I would still like to perform in front of three people versus not performing at all. Having a normal conversation is 10 million times more stressful to me than being on stage. You get to turn off ‘you’ and be something else.”

Baby Steps

The amount of money raised was a similar icing on the cake situation, as one week prior to the show, Gray was told by his girlfriend that her illness had cleared.

This has led to Gray beginning preparations for a future involving personal travel and further shows.

“A trip to New York is the first thing on the list as a grown-up, with the girlfriend. If the show keeps going – who knows? It’d be cool to be a paid comedian.”

Though Gray says he’s currently taking what he calls “baby steps” toward these goals, such as applying for a passport and an ID, he has also begun booking comedians for two follow up shows in December. The proceeds will be donated to the same charity.

"As a chronically shy and introverted person, being on stage and being the center of attention is quite a high.”

Something to be Proud Of

He says organizing and performing at the event was not difficult, and if it had seemed like work, he never would have tried it. Despite this, A Comedian’s Guide to the Galaxy has proven to be something that represents growth.

“I don’t have a lot that I can be proud of, so it’s cool to have the show.”

With one successful show under his belt, two more in development, and a passport in the mail, Gray’s assertion that “laughter is the best medicine” is certainly said with more than just stage experience behind it.

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