Everyone walks away laughing
Local comedians Mike Murray and Bill Simas have laughed their comedy night fundraising venture, Funny 4 Funds, right into the Rhode Island Comedy Hall of Fame.
And thanks to their efforts during the last two years, hundreds of charitable, civic, and local organizations have laughed all the way to the bank as Funny 4 Funds recently crossed the $2 million mark in funds raised.
“The main criteria for induction into the Rhode Island Comedy Hall of Fame (RICHOF) is that the inductee(s) must have made outstanding contributions to comedy in the Ocean State. Usually these contributions take many years to be recognized,” said Joe Hebert, founder RICHOF, who has known Mike and Bill for the last seven years. “Funny 4 Funds fast tracked their way in, by helping those in need raise two million dollars in just two years. I've been in the comedy business for 30 years and I've never seen anything like what Mike and Bill have accomplished. There's no way I could not recognize these guys for what they've done in such a short amount of time. It's crazy.”
On November 6 at The Greenwich Odeum theater, a comedic roast of Bill and Mike was held to celebrate their accomplishments, continuing work, and their induction into RICHOF.
Mike and Bill’s business offers organizations a totally unique and hilarious way to raise money for their particular cause. About two yeas ago, Mike, who lives in Johnston, partnered his talents with Bill, who resides in Warwick, to launch Funny 4 Funds, a comedy company that helps organizations from schools and non-profits to sports teams or those with medical issues host fundraising events.
“The first year that we were in business, we raised half a million dollars, and in the last 12 months we raised $1.5 million,” said Bill. “For some organizations, we can raise a year’s worth of funding in one night, and for them, it means no more calendar drives, bake sales or car washes, it frees them up to do what they love.”
Their brand of comedy fundraisers features a 90-minute, PG, PG-13 or R rated show, depending on the audience, with two comedians from their troupe along with a host.
“When we do a show for someone, they know we care. We meet with their team, and spend hours with them,” said Bill. “It doesn’t matter who they are, we believe that passion trumps everything.”
Funny 4 Funds provides everything needed for a successful and profitable event, including printed and electronic flyers, sound, stage, lights, and entertainment, while all those who host a show have to do is sell tickets.
“I, like every other comedian in the state, wishes they had thought of the idea first. Comedy fundraising isn't a new thing. Bill and Mike have found a way to package it, promote it and make it work for all involved. Everyone wins with a Funny 4 Funds show,” said Joe Hebert. “The organization or charity who need the money, the hall or venue where the event is held, the waitstaff and bartenders and of course, the comedians who work in their shows. Funny 4 Funds is not only a great fundraising vehicle, but they're good for the local economy, too.”
Joe added that, besides being the first pair of comedians to be inducted at the same time, Bill and Mike also have the least comedy experience of all the other Hall of Fame members, but that they're second to none in the “accomplishments department.”
“We have two branches now in Connecticut, and we have one in the Worcester area. People have hired us to come to different states and the furthest we’ve gone was out to Wichita, Kansas, for a woman battling melanoma,” said Bill. “We’re making such a dent in reviving a new way of doing comedy at a high level for fundraising, we’re thinking - what if this became like a franchise? That’s a long term goal.”
While Funny 4 Funds is a for-profit venture, costs to cover expenses for their services are negotiated with the hosting organization based on the location of the event, and are clearly defined before booking. They currently have over 80 comedians that they partner with to host shows, with as many as 30 shows per month, and sometimes more.
“The average is $5,000 raised after expenses,” Mike told the Beacon during the kickoff event of Funny 4 Funds. “It’s taken off like crazy. We need another show setup now, as we never know where the next show will take us or if we’ll have two shows in one night.”
While some causes they’ve helped are lighthearted, others are more serious. But both Mike and Bill make sure that, no matter what the reason is for the show, everyone walks away laughing.
“I don't know what to think, I continue to be blown away by what these guys are doing,” said Joe Hebert. “I expect to see this organization go national. It couldn't happen to two nicer guys.”
For more information about Funny 4 Funds, visit their website at www.funny4funds.com.