Comedy for a Cause
Five years ago, Nathan Timmel was taken out to lunch by a friend and asked what it would cost to get him to perform at a charity fundraiser.
Timmel replied, “You said you were buying lunch, right? We’re good.”
That lunch was the beginning of the Comedy for Charity showcase, which raises money for Iowa veterans and people battling pancreatic cancer.
“One thing that always bothered me about some charity organizations was skimming off the top,” he said. “If I was going to help the cause, I wanted to help the cause, not take from it.”
At 7 p.m. Saturday at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St., audiences will be able to attend the show knowing 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the 14 Johnson County fire departments.
The event started on the road to becoming an annual tradition when, a year after the initial charity, Timmel’s wife told him about a coworker whose fiancé had been in an accident. The man went into a coma, and Timmel knew that the hospital bill would be steep.
“I asked if we could throw a benefit for him, everyone thought it was a great idea, and we had a sold-out show and raised over $4,000,” Timmel said. “After that, I was hooked. It was a lot of fun, and we did a little good. I already had two shows under my belt; I told my wife I’d like to put together an annual show.”
Every year since, Timmel has gathered other comedians willing to raise money for charity. This year the group consists of Mike Marvell, Daniel Frana, and Colin Ryan.
“I just want to do what I love to do and help people out at the same time, and when an opportunity like this comes up and both can happen, it makes me very happy,” Frana said.
Unfortunately, two of the advertised comedians, Bobby Ray Bunch and Tom Garland, were unable to make it to the event. Still, their compatriots look forward to Saturday night.
“I think the tickets are only $5, which makes it a very affordable way of getting out of the house and doing good at the same time,” Ryan said.
Marvell agreed, saying the money is going to a deserving place and that the night will be enjoyable for everyone.
“I have been blessed with three healthy children and a great family,” Marvell said. “And I hope doing this event, in some small way might help somebody not as fortunate.”
For the first few years, Timmel headlined the event. However, to offer variety in each year’s show, he has opted to act as host. While a number of local comedians were looked at to wrap up the show, Timmel eventually asked Marvell to close the event.
“When it comes to Iowa City, there are several fantastic open microphone or showcase nights. There’s a lot of up-and-coming talent here, and that’s fantastic,” Timmel said. “But this show offers a series of professional standup comedians. This show will not be people trying out new material or standing on stage for the first time. In Comedy for Charity, you’re going to get seasoned veterans with solid material. Plus, you have the added benefit of knowing your money went somewhere really, really, good.”
Comedy for Charity
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Mill, 120 E. Burlington
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