Funny evening, serious cause
PORTLAND — In a 2006 interview, when Matt Noyes of Scarborough was just 23 and facing treatment for his second brain tumor, he said he loved being able to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
"If I can give something back, it means the world to me," he said.
Matt died in April 2008. But his parents, Bill and Nancy Noyes, have continued to give back in his memory through The Noyes Brain Tumor Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that raises money to support research and treatment at St. Jude. The hospital never asks a family to pay more than what is covered by a patient's insurance. In addition, it makes travel arrangements and pays for a parent or family member to fly and stay with the child.
Last year, the Noyes Foundation raised more than $85,000 for the hospital through its Cooking for a Cure event.
This month, "Maine's Funniest Mom" – comic Karen Morgan of Cumberland – has recruited three of her funny friends, John Ater of Bath, Nellie Coes of Yarmouth and Tuck Tucker of Topsham to join her for "Cool Comedy for a Great Cause," a Noyes Foundation benefit at Empire Dine & Dance on Congress Street in Portland.
Morgan met Matt a few years ago.
"He was such a positive human being; how tragic it was that we lost him," she said.
Comedy gives the audience a chance to laugh – a "wonderful way to get through the day," Morgan said. "Comedy is a way to promote things that aren't very happy in life."
Morgan, an attorney, said she has put law on a back burner these days to concentrate on family first and then on her comedy career. She tours the country with Mama's Night Out and is planning a one-woman show this summer.
While he's gathering material for his routine, Ater might be found painting houses – his "real job." With a goal of becoming a headliner, he said he's been performing at comedy clubs for about five years, "working my way up the ranks."
"I'm really having fun with it and they actually pay me sometimes," he said.
His comedy encompasses "a lot of Maine stuff," family and dogs. And, of course, it includes his observations on house painting, he said.
In the state of Maine, Tucker said, comedy isn't all about trying to make it in Boston, New York or Los Angeles.
"A lot of the comics' mission is to try to get connected with the community we're involved in," he said.
If he can help raise money while having fun doing it, he's happy staying right in state, Tucker said. He describes his comedic style as observational – with a lot of attention given to "relationships, family and the oddities you see during the day. We all think about it but I try to articulate it into a funny joke."
Coes was a top 10 finalist in the 2006 Nick at Night's Funniest Mom contest and is a consultant for the advice site, DearFrannie.com.
She, like the others, writes all of her own material. "It would be tough to do somebody else's," she said. "Usually it's stuff that happens from pain."
And, ideally, she prefers the writing to the performing.
"It's much more natural than for me to get up and perform; I had a hard time doing it," she said. "You've got to shower, get dressed up, wear makeup and make sure your hair's not dirty."
• FYI: "Cool Comedy for a Great Cause" will take place at 7 p.m.,Thursday, March 26, at Empire Dine & Dance, 575 Congress St., Portland. Tickets are $15 with all proceeds going to The Noyes Brain Tumor Foundation to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Tickets may be ordered online at TheNoyesBrainTumorFoundation.com or by mailing a check to TNBTF, 2 Dental Ave., Biddeford, ME 04005. They will also be available at the door. All four comedians are donating their time for the show, and the Empire is donating the room.