AIDS benefit benefits from a good laugh |

AIDS benefit benefits from a good laugh

Denise Sloan

There’s nothing funny about AIDS but, just maybe, some high-powered comedy will help us find a cure.

When the Lake Tahoe AIDS Task Force holds its 10th annual fund-raiser Wednesday, the brilliant comedy of “Saturday Night Live’s” Kevin Nealon will headline an evening of entertainment, prizes and a silent auction. The gala, titled “Watch the Stars Come Out,” stars Nealon and performers from Stateline’s best productions, all in Caesars Tahoe’s showroom.

Most performers, including Nealon, are anxious to help out the local AIDS benefit. Although all areas of society are affected by AIDS, the entertainment world seems heaviest hit.

“Being in this business, I’ve known lot of people who have succumbed or are dealing with AIDS and to have this opportunity to be a part of the fund-raising is very rewarding,” Nealon said Sunday.

“I believe we’re making new inroads by doing more research on humans, something the AIDS community is supportive of, and we have to be confident that a cure is right around the corner,” Nealon said.

“AIDS education is helping people be aware and to live in a preventative way as much as they can.”

After nine seasons on “Saturday Night Live” and an Emmy nomination for his part in the show’s comedy writing, Nealon has perfected his comedy skills.

“Even though I did standup before ‘Saturday Night Live,’ people still assume I’m a sketch comedian. They really don’t know I do standup,” he said.

Nealon’s standup comedy is significantly different from most comedians today.

“I do more bizarre, absurd observations. Just absurd notions.

“A lot of comedy is just silly, child-like thoughts and as people get older they don’t allow themselves to think silly,” he said.

Supporting local AIDS fund-raising efforts isn’t all Nealon does in his spare time. Last weekend he donated his time to the Special Olympics by appearing at a Planet Hollywood reception and skiing at Kirkwood Ski Resort. He also devotes a great deal of time to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Nealon and his wife of eight years purchased a home at Lake Tahoe several years ago. They are now officially “locals” six months a year. The other six months are spent in Los Angeles. But their presence at Lake Tahoe is noticeably low-key.

“We like to hike a lot and I’m not a big gambler so we don’t spend too much time in the casinos, except we do like to see the comedians and groups that perform here,” he said.

Nealon does not perform on the Silver Circuit but instead plays primarily corporate engagements and colleges. So Wednesday night will be a rare opportunity for locals to witness his profoundly dry wit blended with the innocence of a little-boy smile.

The evening’s emcees will be the comedy team of Eric and Jayne Post. Arthur Hervey will provide entertainment during the silent auction.

Performers from “Carnaval Fantastique” from Harrah’s Lake Tahoe will entertain as well as master magician Tony Clark, star of “Phantasy” at the Horizon. Members of “American Bandstand, Live at Harveys” will present several of their high-energy song-and-dance routines.

Other entertainers donating their time are juggler/comedian Little Scotty Bondo; belly dancer Diana Woodbury; comedy juggler Alan Howard; and the “Time Out Dancers.”

Proceeds raised during the evening go toward area programs sponsored by the Lake Tahoe AIDS Task Force, a bistate, nonprofit organization. Programs include medical care, counseling, transportation, education and emergency financial assistance.

Last year’s fund-raiser brought in about $17,000, making it one of the year’s more successful efforts. Each year a different program is targeted for funding. This year the primary focus is to stock the organization’s food bank.

“Watch the Stars Come Out” begins with a no-host bar, silent auction and prize drawings at 6:30 p.m. The performance starts at 8:45. Admission is $15. For tickets, call 542-0131 or purchase them at the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, Tahoe-Douglas Chamber of Commerce or Faces Nightclub. Donations – including ticket price – are tax deductible.

A buffet at Faces Nightclub after the benefit will also provide funds for the Task Force’s food bank. A $5 donation is requested.

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