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Cancer is no joking matter to these comics

Although laughter is not a cure for cancer, a Columbus native has found a way to use it as a lighthearted, temporary break from reality.

Jeff Robinson is the founder of “Comics for a Cure,” a stand-up comedy show that benefits the American Cancer Society. This year, the show will be at The Strand Theatre in Delaware, Ohio on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m.

Robinson came up with the idea as a volunteer at the American Cancer Society in 2003. As the group was brainstorming ideas for unique fundraisers, Robinson thought about his lifelong hobby of stand-up comedy. He suggested the idea, and everyone in the room was thrilled with it. He said they wanted the idea brought to life right away, so six months after the conception of his suggestion the first “Comics for a Cure” took place. Since 2003, the show has expanded in size, as well as quality.

“As long as there is still no cure for cancer, it is important to do this. And it’s not just to raise money, but to raise awareness,” Robinson said.

The first year the show was at the Delaware Hotel, which has since closed. From 2004 until 2006, the show was held at Ohio Wesleyan University in a banquet center to accommodate a larger audience, as well as a sit-down dinner.

More recently, in order to accommodate an even larger number of people, the dinner was completely eliminated and the show was moved to The Strand Theatre. The Strand can hold more than 300 audience-members. Now the tickets are cheaper than years past and allows for the opportunity to have larger proceeds as more people can attend the show. Tickets are $20 and can be bought at The Strand or at Beehive Books in Delaware.

This year “Comics for a Cure” will have three stand-up comedians performing, while Robinson will be the master of ceremonies. The comedians include David Kaplan of Columbus, Dan Swartwout of Columbus, and Darryl Rhoades of Atlanta. Each will perform 30-35 minutes of material, all of which will be appropriate for all ages.

Comedians from past years include David McCleary, Dino Tripodis, and Mary Miller, who is also a breast cancer survivor.

Robinson also credits the success of the show, which has brought in roughly $100,000 over the past seven years, to the help of The Strand Theatre’s manager, Kara Long.

“Kara has helped make it so we can have a great show,” Robinson said.

Michelle and Mike Lobdell have also stood by Robinson to help make keep the show running. Michelle worked with American Cancer Society the first year the show was put on and, although she has since left the organization, she and her husband have continued to be a large part of the production. From selling tickets to making brochures, the couple has helped make this event possible.

Robinson finds the cause an important issue that he believes has touched everyone in some way or another. Robinson lost his own mother at the age of 12.

“Everyone knows how challenging it is to cure these diseases. The best way to get through this is to have a sense of humor,” Robinson said.

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