Members of Denver's stand-up comedy community are coming together to put on a benefit show for Aurora theater shooting victims and 100 percent of the proceeds from ticket sales will directly assist victims of the shooting.
Called, "Healing Hearts With Laughter," the benefit show at The Oriental Theater will be hosted by Brad Haltom, one of the show organizers and features comedy from from Ben Roy, Matt Baca, Sam Tallent, Nate Lund, Chris Charpentier, Bobby Crane, Chris Carlton with music by Dynamitedynamite.
The show's organizers, Chris Carlton and Brad Haltom along with some help from local comedy producer Andy Juett, put the show together because the tragedy struck close to home. "I had a few friends in the theater, one of which was shot three times," Haltom told The Huffington Post. "Fortunately, she's going to be fine. But, I knew there were a lot of people that weren't going to be able to get on with their lives as easily. I wanted to put on a show for the people that were there, not only to raise money, but also to offer a distraction for at least one night of fun. That's how Healing Hearts was born."
Haltom also says that he has extended an open invitation to all victims of the shooting and a few have responded and will be in attendance. Isaiah Bow, Megan Saunders and Emma Goos, all victims of the shooting, are even helping with organizing the show.
"This is going to be a great show," Haltom said. "The support I've received is immense."
All proceeds from the show will go to the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance (COVA), a non-profit group actively involved with coordinating donations and providing assistance for victims of the mass shooting.
"The tragedy in Aurora has hit close to home for all of us," a statement on Healing Hearts' Facebook page reads. "The evil that men do will never end and never be understood, but when evil rears its ugly face sometimes the best way to cope is to simply laugh and show that we will get through this."
There will also be a pre-party for the show and art sale in the parking lot of the at The Red Door art gallery, across the street from the theater from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. A portion of those proceeds will also go to COVA.
Ben Roy, headlining comic at the Healing Hearts benefit show, chatted with The Huffington Post about what to expect from the show, why he felt compelled to get involved and his feelings on the debates that have sparked since the shooting.
What made you want to get involved with a benefit for the Aurora victims?
Helplessness, the same as everyone else. I just felt like there's very little I can do to correct society's course, so why not be a part of what little positive comes out a tragedy like this. Chris Carlton and Brad Haltom emailed and asked if I would participate, and I agreed. This Denver scene is terrific right now. Lot's of heart. Plus, I love telling dick jokes in the Highlands. Something about sitting above the rest of the city makes me feel like a monarch. I will judge
How do you prepare for a show like this that is in the wake of something so devastating?
I'm just me. And honestly, I don't think I have any material that overlaps with any of the things that led up to, or
contributed to this tragedy. If someone gets offended, honestly, I think they would have got offended regardless of whether or not this was a benefit. Those are the people that reluctantly attend and then wait for us to say something off-color.
What can people expect from the show?
Foul language, childish jokes, ideas. Maybe a blatant disregard for sexual decorum or two.
Is laughter good medicine for massively devastating tragedies like this?
Nope. Change is. But we're all too busy writing our own book of the world to stop and do anything about it. Laughter for a lot of people doesn't help, but for some, it provides relief. So why not come sit and revel in the ridiculousness of it all. I think people like comedy because for those 90 minutes, they can let down the purity-plank our jobs and family require us to hold for 10 hours a day.
What are your thoughts on the shooting, the debates it has sparked nationally about guns, violence, culture, etc. now that we're three weeks out from the night of the tragedy?
I'm sick and tired of people on both sides sounding off about how violence of this level is in our nature. Then this cues a perpetually petty and childish gun debate. A debate that we're now finding is immune and irreconcilable. One side feels we can't be trusted with guns because we're just going harm each other; and the opposing side believes we have to have guns to defend ourselves against the awful things we're inevitably going to carry out. Both of these are fucking bullshit because both are just bandages, not cures. The violence will surely continue despite which way you choose. We have to stop mistaking natural reactions to unnatural circumstances as being what is inherently in our nature. In the grand scheme of things, modern society makes up a very small and bloody part of the human experience. For hundreds of thousands of years our species co-existed and maintained reasonable populations levels. Only in the past several thousand years did we finally make a devil's pact when we decided to take what we thought was the easy road. And ever since then, we've paid the price with our lives. We have to recognize that deep in all of us still lives the remnants of an instinctual drive to coexist. And that ingrained want haunts and motivates every negative thing that comes out of our fat, overfed mouths.
I wish we could stop focusing on the bullshit minutia that separates us and start looking at the plethora of physical, emotional, and spiritual phenomena that make us all near-exactly alike.
Photos from the devastating Aurora theater shooting: