Ray Romano riffed on raising teens, JB Smoove had his way with an office chair and Fred Willard channeled Elvis Presley as a stand-up comic Saturday night, all on the way to adding nearly three-quarters of a million dollars to the war chest to fight myeloma. .
The place was the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, and the occasion was the International Myeloma Foundation’s annual Comedy Celebration fundraiser named in honor of “Everyone Loves Raymond” actor Peter Boyle. Now in its 10th year, the event has raised more than $6 million to date to battle the disease that claimed Boyle’s life in December 2006. That amount includes more than $700,000 this year alone.
This year’s honoree was the person responsible for spearheading the benefit in the first place, the actor’s widow, Loraine Alterman Boyle, whose knack for getting results was referenced in her daughter Amy’s introduction. (The Boyle’s other daughter, Lucy, who is expecting her first child shortly, lives in New York and was under doctor’s orders not to travel.)
“When my dad got sick, she sprang into action,” Amy Boyle told the crowd, “and did everything she could to find the best doctors. She can be kind of a tough lady like another tough lady who is running for office. … Let’s remember that when we vote on Tuesday.”
Loraine Boyle took the stage to a standing ovation, just long enough to embrace her daughter, receive the evening’s honor and offer words of thanks directed to the foundation’s chairman of the board, Dr. Brian Durie. “Thank you to the greatest doctor in the world,” she said. “And thank you all.”
Though the evening of entertainment that followed varied wildly — from Jeff Garlin (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) taking the stage in a Cubs jersey to muse about Dupar’s pie program, and JB Smoove offering restaurant advice (“Don’t ever pick up the menu. Just memorize three dishes ahead of time”), there was enough political commentary to make it clear that Amy Boyle wasn’t the only one with Tuesday’s election top of mind.
“Eight years ago on this stage I remember saying, ‘Peter, I wish you were here for [the election]’,” Romano told the audience at the beginning of his set. “And now I want to say, ‘Stay where you are! You’re safe! We may be coming to you soon!” At another point in the show, he suggested that political commercials on TV should be required to carry the same kind of warnings and disclosures as pharmaceutical ads do.
Garlin, a fixture at the fundraiser for the last several years, ended his set with a halfhearted threat not to return. “I loved Peter Boyle so much,” he said, pretending to be outraged at the way his set was timed. “But I’m done with this. OK, I might come back if this was the best [fundraising] year ever.” He said he’d make his decision “the day after Hillary [Clinton] becomes president.”
Comedian Bill Burr (“Breaking Bad”) had fun at both of the major presidential candidates’ expense, referring to Donald Trump’s debate performance as “knees, elbows and an orange wig” and impersonating Clinton as a grimacing bobblehead before switching gears and confessing that there was something he feared more than either candidate. “Robots — that’s what we’ve got to worry about,” Burr said. “We need some kind of robot fail-safe [to protect us] like if you tip it over, it can’t get back up.”
The list of the evening’s comedians also included Dom Irrera, Larry Miller and Kevin Nealon. The night ended with Michael McKean and his wife, Annette O’Toole, taking the stage for a hilarious troika of faux folk songs they’d penned, “Milwaukee Moon,” “Killington Hill” and “Closer Than Tomorrow.”
“2016 was a year we lost some good people,” McKean said before performing the night’s final number, “and picked up some pretty dreadful ones too.”
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