Two years ago, the Garden of Dreams Foundation, the non-profit educational division of The Madison Square Garden Company that unites government and educational figures with members of the MSG family, staged "Garden of Laughs," a benefit comedy concert hosted by sportscaster Bob Costas and featuring athletes and entertainers introducing the greats of the comedy game.
Last night, the new Garden tradition was renewed, as longtime Ranger fan Steve Schirrippa (A Ranger fan, a fellow Steve, a proud New Yorker, and a funny guy. I LOVE HIM!) took the reins and introduced another all-star comedy card featuring HBO star Bill Burr, DAILY SHOW alum John Oliver,the "Mike" of MIKE & MOLLY, Billy Gardell, the former Mr. Jessica Simpson, I refer to Dane Cook,and one of the voice actors of the upcoming Disney/Pixar feature "Inside Out" (a major emotion picture) as well as an author and playwright, Lewis Black. (The star of MSG's talk show 4 COURSES WITH J.B. SMOOVE was originally scheduled, but he had to cancel at the last minute due to a death in the family.) On hand to introduce the various acts were Whoopi Goldberg, Daryl McDaniels (the DMC of RUN-DMC, the famous rap act from the 80's), former New York Rangers Rod Gilbert and Adam Graves, comic actors Michael J. Fox and Will Arnett (the former Mr. Amy Poehler), and the voice of MSG Networks, Al Trautwig, who, in one of the evening's rare serious moments, introduced the real stars of the evening, a few of the kids who benefit from the Garden of Dreams' after-school programs. Longtime readers of this fine blog will know that it was suggested by Nicole Vranzanian who worked for the Garden at the time, and I have seen footage of the Foundation's talent show at Radio City Music Hall as well as kids fulfilling their dreams of interviewing actual athletes (in basketball and tennis) for special programming on MSG and on the Gardenvision video monitor. These guys do a great job and they truly deserve your support. For information and to donate, visit http://www.gardenofdreamsfoundation.org. You (and the kids!) will be very glad you did.
As for last night's "Garden of Laughs,"it was truly a group effort, as usual competitors such as Sports Radio 66 AM/ 101.9 FM WFAN and ESPN Sports Radio 98.7 FM and the New York Post and Newsday teamed up as principal sponsors along with Garden sponsors Chase and Delta and Turner Construction Company as well as in-kind donors Time Warner Cable, AMC Networks, Showtime Networks, (where you'll be able to see the finished product, for the exact date and time, log on to http://www.sho.com ) and the Prudential Center, including the New Jersey Devils. (The Rock stepped up to the plate and let MSG's WNBA Liberty play on their home court while the Garden was being transformed.)
The best bits of the evening were Lewis Black's comprehensive description of his trip to Copenhagen, John Oliver's ruminations on Superstorm Sandy, (He was watching NY1 and saw a guy waterskiing while NY1's reporter kept imploring the viewers to stay indoors.) Australia (founded by the UK as a penal colony. He thinks Britain should have built a barbed wire fence around the coast.) and US stick-to-itivity. (Nothing says F.U. like a spike in Halloween dog costumes while Europe is drowning in debt.) I had to go out for air when I heard Dane Clark talk about porn, and Billy's argument against Walt Disney World (He agrees with their claims it makes adults feel like kids because his grandpa said, "Gotta pee." and his kid said "Gotta pee.") didn't sit well with me, but other than that, I had a great time laughing my troubles away in the knowledge that I was also making kids happy by helping the Garden of Dreams Foundation.
Laughter is indeed the best medicine, and this evening was the strongest relief for depression you could get without a prescription!
Until next time, remember the immortal words of the legendary Bozo T. Clown and...Just. Keep. Laughing! AND....