Gilda’s Club Louisville Hosts 9th Annual Night of a Thousand Laughs
Writer: Stephanie VonTrapp
Photography provided by Gilda’s Club Louisville
Gilda Radner, the first comic hired by Lorne Michaels for the ground-breaking Saturday Night Live entertainment show, left a legacy of laughter for the masses, but she also has inspired those worldwide living with cancer. Gilda once said cancer “gave her membership to an elite club I’d rather not belong to.” Gilda died of Ovarian Cancer in 1989. In 1995, her husband, Gene Wilder, Radner’s psychotherapist, Joanna Bull, and broadcaster Joel Siegel, opened the first chapter of Gilda’s Club in NYC.
Gilda’s Club is a non-profit community for those living with cancer, their family and friends. In 2007, Gilda’s Club Louisville became the 21st to open in the United States. Located in the Highlands and such a valued support to those living with cancer, it has expanded its outreach to include Southern Indiana and will be moving into a much larger 35,000 square-foot facility (next to Collegiate) in the Summer of 2019.
Gilda’s serves men, women and children with 55 different types of cancer and offers more than 100 free programs each month. They believe “living with cancer is not a choice. How you live with it is.” Programs include pilates, yoga, Zumba, meditation, education, art and music therapy, social gatherings and more. I encourage those of you who are living with cancer, or who love someone who is, to reach out to Gilda’s Club Louisville and feel the love firsthand.
How does Gilda’s Club Louisville provide such a wonderful service for our community? Well, in true Gilda fashion, part of it is funded on laughter itself. Every year since 2008, they have hosted the gloriously hilarious Night of a Thousand Laughs. It is a fun-filled evening of drinks, dinner and comedy and the proceeds help keep Gilda’s Club in action and serving strong. Every year, five opening amateur comedians compete for laughs on stage at the Kentucky Center for the Arts as they liven up the audience for the professional comedian whose set wraps up the evening.
I had the privilege of performing last year as we opened for Las Vegas comedian and Kentucky native, Mack King. I laughed the entire evening from start to finish and can assure you everyone else did, too. This year’s performance will be on May 19 in the Bomhard Theater. The VIP reception will begin at 5:30, followed by a VIP Dinner. The show will begin at 7:30 pm. Tickets range from $50-$175 and guests have the option to just see the show, to see the show and go to the after-party, or a grand evening of drinks, dinner, performance and the after-party with Louisville’s funniest folks. There is also a raffle for $100 gift cards to our city’s most delectable dining establishments and a Grand Prize Auction.
Last year a Pappy Experience, a private tasting of the entire “Pappy Van Winkle” family and personalized tour, was auctioned. This year’s prize will be unveiled in April along with the headlining professional comedian. If you are looking for an entertaining and memorable weekend, I encourage you to buy your tickets now.
I still have my Gilda Radner paper-doll set, and, as a life-long fan, I believe this event honors her spirit in just the way she would have liked. Five terrified, amateur comics step onto to the stage to fight for your chuckles and win your hearts — all while raising money for a worthy cause. The headliner then makes your stomach hurt from so much laughing with their riotous act, and we all end the evening over sparkling cocktails and conversation.
This year’s amateur comics are Ainsley Jones (from Doe Anderson), Peggy King (from The Agency/Signature HealthCARE), Pooja Reddy (from ABC News), Reggie Robertson (from Hell or High Water) and Zack Warren (Tri-Arrows Aluminum). Returning this year as Host and Emcee is last year’s winner, Mark Kull. Kull brought down the house last year as he reminded us what happens when you mix generational wealth with fatherhood and bourbon.
Tickets can be purchased at the Kentucky Center for the Arts Box Office or at kentuckycenter.org/notl18. There are only 600 available, so grab them now and bring a friend. If you cannot attend but would like to support Gilda’s Club Louisville, please stop by the clubhouse or visit gildasclublouisville.org.
Again, if you are living with cancer or know someone who is, there is a community at Gilda’s Club Louisville continuing their mission to ensure that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action and sustained by community. Gilda’s welcomes those interested to stop by and tour the clubhouse located at 633 Baxter Ave, 40204 or contact them at 502-583-0075.