With 50 hours of multigenre comedy to sample, there’s something for everyone at Die Laughing, Minneapolis-based Fearless Comedy Productions’ annual fundraiser, which is back for a fifth year April 6–8, 2018. Acts include stand-up comedy, improv, musical performances, joke-offs, dance, educational content, live recordings of podcasts, and more. Fearless Comedy regulars and guest performers also participate in audience-funded challenges, punishments, and rewards. It’s the event of the year for many company members, who camp out at the venue and subsist on takeout while they fill collective hundreds of hours of volunteer shifts to make the program a resounding success.
Would-be attendees can drop in to Uptown’s Phoenix Theater anytime the marathon is running or watch the streaming video from the comfort of home. Suggested donation for whole weekend access is $20 (and you can make donations from home too), but any size contribution is welcome. Donate additional funds via challenges, rewards, and punishments that start at $5 as well as through the silent auction. Auctioned goodies include but are not limited to:
- front-row tickets to a preseason Vikings game
- a guest spot on the Geeks without God podcast, hosted by Tim Wick, Nick Glover, and Molly Glover
- the very first copy of local comedy folk band the Dregs’ latest CD, Dregnado, as well as an early digital release of the CD
- gift certificates for dinner for four at the Fantasy Flight Games Center
- show tickets for HUGE Improv Theater )
- a custom-drawn RPG character
This marathon fundraiser provides most of the yearly budget for Fearless Comedy Productions’ initiatives:
At Fearless Comedy Productions, our mission is to encourage, empower, and educate new artists and existing talents, and explore the limits of comedy while striving to create a more diverse and inclusive environment. Fearless is dedicated to helping these voices reach an audience in the artistic community.
A conglomeration of theatrical partners housed under one production company, Fearless uses its funds to support comedy artists such as company member Duck Washington, who had his original semiautobiographical play, Caucasian Aggressive Pandas and Other Mulatto Tales, brought to the stage by Fearless Comedy in 2015. A deeply personal work, the play expresses the frustration, the unifying forces, and the humor experienced by biracial individuals. “When others have decided that my work was too taboo, or tried to shutter my voice,” Washington says, “Fearless’s continued support has given me reassurance that my story and my voice have value.”
Another company member, Becci Schmidt, used the platform provided by Fearless to grapple with her devastating anxiety and depression. Like most of us, Schmidt relies on comedy as a defense mechanism but also as way to express her inner self and find relief. As the playwright of Anxiety! The Musical, she found community within not only the company but also the audience. “Audience members sharing the moments they connected with most, using scenes to finally be able to show someone they love how anxiety affects them, changing the way someone looks at people who suffer from anxiety. . . . There is nothing more fearless than finding the funny in the dark corners of life,” she says.
Get the full details on Die Laughing V on the fundraiser’s website or Facebook event page. You can also learn more by checking out our 2015 interview with organizer Jena Young or videos of previous years’ performances on YouTube.