Running joke: Political campaigns use humor to raise cash

Working blue: Emily Gallagher, who is running for the Democratic nomination for the State Assembly's District 50, will host a fund-raiser featuring north Brooklyn comedians on Jan. 8 at Elsewhere.
Courtesy Emily Gallagher for State Assembly

They put the fun in fund-raising!

This is an election year, and upstart campaigns are bringing their message to the people — and to the comedy club! Three comedy shows in Brooklyn this month will raise cash for political campaigns. The power of laughter can help unite voters from all walks of life, according to one event organizer. 

“Comedy is a great equalizer,” said Heidi Vanderlee, who helped put together “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Fundraising,” a comedy show at Bushwick’s Elsewhere on Jan. 8 that will benefit upstart State Assembly candidate Emily Gallagher, an activist who is attempting to topple 46-year-incumbent Joe Lentol in District 50. 

Events in hip neighborhoods might attract young liberal voters, but comedy can draw in a wide array of people, noted Vanderlee. 

“I think it does a good job at appealing to young progressives, but it appeals to everyone,” she said. “I think it appeals to folks who just want to sit down.” 

And the light-hearted fundraising method can help take some of the weight out of the grueling process of running for office, while providing an alternative to corporate fundraising, according to Gallagher.

“Grassroots funding is an absolutely crucial part of running a race that challenges the status quo in Albany,” she said.

For the show, organizers have assembled a group of comics, some of whom hail from the same neighborhoods that Gallagher hopes to represent — Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Clinton Hill — including Kelly Bachman, Josh Gondelman, and Shalewa Sharpe, among several others. 

Another show happening the same night at Gallagher’s event, has a larger target. “No Turning Back: A Storytelling Show to Flip The Senate” at the Bell House in Gowanus on Jan. 8, will feature a lineup of comedians, storytellers, and musicians, telling stories about turning points in their lives. All funds from the event will go to Swing Left, an organization focused on swing states in the 2020 election.

And another show a week later will focus on a fairly distant race, but it has a personal component. “An Evening of Comedy in Support of Ohio State Representative Phil Robinson,” at the Bell House on Jan. 16, will feature comedian Phoebe Robinson, best known as one half of the podcast “Two Dope Queens” — and the sister of the Ohio State Representative. 

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Fundraising at Elsewhere (599 Johnson Ave. at Scott Avenue in Bushwick, www.elsewherebrooklyn.com). Jan. 8 at 7 pm. $25. 

No turning back: A Storytelling Show to Flip The Senate at the Bell House [149 Seventh St. between Third and Fourth avenues in Gowanus, (718) 643–6510, www.thebellhouseny.com] Jan. 8 at 7 pm. $35 ($60 VIP). 

Phoebe Robinson and Special Guests at the Bell House (see above). Jan 16 at 7 pm. $25–$40 ($250 VIP).

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