TV

The Cause At The Center Of Comedy’s Biggest Night

Robert Smigel, the man responsible for Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, is putting on comedy special for charity – and yes, he’s aware of how strange that sounds.

HBO’s Night of Too Many Stars airs live November 18th from Madison Square Garden and the goal of the night, besides bidding on awkward dinners with Matt Damon and Jimmy Kimmel, is to raise money for NEXT for Autism, a nonprofit providing help to people living on the spectrum.

“What if a charity event was run by someone who’s disturbed, but well-meaning?” Smigel joked with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show a couple of years ago while promoting the show. Smigel tapped Stewart to host the star-studded event back in 2008. Since then, NEXT for Autism has raised nearly $24 million for programs designed to help children and adults living on the autism spectrum lead fulfilling, productive lives.

Smigel joined NEXT for Autism (formerly New York Collaborates for Autism) after his son was diagnosed with the disorder. The comedian and his wife Michelle spent years trying to get their son into schools and programs that understood the needs of children with autism. The experience prompted Smigel to enact change the best way he knows how: through comedy.

Years of shoving his hand up a puppet’s a** and insulting everyday people on the street may not seem to give someone the best know-how to run a charity benefit for autism, but Smigel’s work on sketch comedy shows like SNL and The Dana Carvey Show as well as late night talk shows like Late Night with Conan O’Brien have gained him plenty of funny friends who don’t mind going balls to the wall for a good cause. And that’s really the big draw of the show. Famous people auctioning off their “services” and audience members bidding on them.

Famous people like Paul Rudd, who came on stage at the Beacon Theater in 2015 and agreed to be fed regurgitated chicken by an audience member. Someone else bid a few thousand to commit a crime with John Oliver while Tommy Hilfiger shelled out cash for Chris Rock to do an ad spoof for his underwear line.

Alongside these outrageous moments (which really feel like absurdist comedy sketches) are comedians like Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson, Stephen Colbert, Adam Sandler, and more gifting viewers with hilarious stand-up routines and doing, as Stewart puts it, “lots of begging” for a good cause.

That cause is NEXT for Autism’s driving mission to better the opportunities for people who continue to be ostracized by society at large.

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