By: Dan Ryan
Somehow, Laughs for Life always seems to sneak up on me. I spend just about the whole year thinking about it, and more than half the year planning for it. But when May rolls around, I’m invariably equal parts excited, nervous, and surprised that we’ve started counting the number of days, not months or weeks, until event day.
Despite the huge amount of work that goes into Laughs, I’ve loved the gala from the first one I attended. This might have had something to do with the fact that I love a good excuse to look fancy, which is not something San Francisco offers a whole lot of. And at Laughs I get to do that while eating delicious food and listening to standup comedy no less!
Some of you might know that our Executive Director, Eve Meyer, used to perform standup comedy (rumor has it that she still does sets around the city). And while it would be hard to convince her to come out of comedic retirement, I’m thrilled with the comedians who will be supplying the Laughs for the event.
After spending quite a few working hours watching standup routines from various bay area comics (it was grueling work, requiring intense focus and determination), we settled on three of the funniest.
Torio Van Grol is headlining the comedy acts this year, back by popular demand. I worked check in at last year’s at Laughs for Life and listened to Torio’s set from outside the ballroom. On multiple occasions I laughed so hard that I failed to notice guests patiently waiting to be checked into the event. Hopefully I can still hear the sets from my post at the Julia Morgan Ballroom, although my work might suffer as a result.
The silent auction section is a favorite of the more competitive types. I know this from personal experience, having been boxed out two different times the past two years (those SFJAZZ tickets from last year should be mine!). Stay vigilant friends, and watch out for people who might swoop in and one-up your bid during dinner.
Although it might be hard to motivate yourself to move during dinner. Chef Larry Finn, formerly the executive chef at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel and Scala’s Bistro, is the culinary director at the Julia Morgan Ballroom. For you Iron Chef fans out there, Larry worked with Masaharu Morimoto at his restaurant in New York prior to his move to San Francisco. The staff who attended the pre-event tastings for the Laughs for Life menu woke up three days later from a food-induced coma. The rest of us are excited to see what all the fuss is about!
Most importantly, I’m excited to celebrate the SFSP community and the incredible effort that goes into the work that we do. Laughs for Life is a reminder that our community consists of so many more people than just our small staff and the wonderful volunteers who give their time and skills every single day. We see volunteers come in and out, and the staff members see one another all throughout the week. But it’s rare to have so many of the people who support SFSP together in one place.
Clients aren’t always in a place where they’re able to show gratitude, so to have a whole room full of people showing that they support and care deeply about the work we do is powerfully motivating. I’ve always thought of Laughs for Life as a chance to celebrate all the positivity that results from this community we’ve built.
And I’m excited to celebrate with you!