COMEDY CENTRAL TEAMS UP WITH UCLA JONSSON
CANCER CENTER, THE MATTEL CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL AT UCLA AND
THE UCLA NEUROPSYCHIATRIC INSTITUTE TO RESEARCH THE USE OF LAUGHTER
TO PREVENT AND TREAT DISEASE
(User name: Comedy; Password: Press)***
The 5-Year Study, Called "Rx Laughter"™ First Multi-Year
Project to Combine the Entertainment Industry with the Medical Sciences
to Study the Impact of Humor in Research, Health Education and Therapy
on Health in Children and Adolescents.
NEW YORK, January XX, 2000 – Is laughter really the best
medicine? COMEDY CENTRAL and the UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center
think it just might help. As part of the network’s continuing
pro-social program "Comedy Rx," COMEDY CENTRAL has provided
a $75,000 research grant to UCLA to study how to most effectively
use humor to reduce pain and to prevent and treat disease in children
and adolescents. Humor will also be studied as a tool to instruct
and educate pediatric patients and their parents on health issues
and as a form of therapy to ease the emotional problems that can
result from physical illness. The 5-year study, called "Rx
Laughter™," is the brainchild of Sherry Dunay Hilber,
an entertainment industry executive who created and brought this
project to Margaret Stuber, M.D. & Lonnie Zeltzer, M.D. of the
UCLA Departments of Psychiatry & Pediatrics respectively, and
specialists at the Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA,. Ms.
Hilber then approached Comedy Central to participate in this unique
collaboration because of their interest in the possible connections
between humor and health.This unique collaboration is the first
multi year project that combines the Entertainment Industry and
the Medical Sciences, together with the expertise of UCLA, to study
the benefits of humor in research, health education and therapy
for children and adolescents.
"We are both happy and proud to support the UCLA Jonsson Cancer
Center,the Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA & The UCLA
Neuropsychiatric Institute in this important research study that
has the potential to improve the quality of people’s lives,"
said Larry Divney, president and CEO, COMEDY CENTRAL.
"We know our programming is entertaining but to think that
we may discover that comedy and COMEDY CENTRAL is literally good
for you is a very exciting proposition."
Says "Rx Laughter"™ Creator Sherry Dunay Hilber;
"Comedy Central is well-known and very highly regarded for
their prosocial commitment as evidenced by their successful "Comedy
RX" program, and their desire to continue to find potential
ways that laughter and humor may be used as a healing resource.
I am extremely proud and thrilled that an organization of the caliber
and integrity of Comedy Central, together with the world-renowned
UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center, have agreed to join forces through "Rx
Laughter" ™ in this way. We hope that others within the
entertainment community will be as excited about joining in this
unique endeavor as well."
"Rx Laughter" will include participants of all ages,
cultural backgrounds, and socio-economic groups. This 5 year project
will focus on interventions for children and adolescents undergoing
painful procedures or difficult treatment for serious illnesses
. Using a combination of carefully-selected classic cartoons and
television, some COMEDY CENTRAL programming, and classic films such
as Abbott & Costello, the Marx Bros, Charlie Chaplin, and WC
"Rx Laughter"™ will be comprised of three elements:
research, health education, and therapeutic entertainment.
The goal of the three elements will be to further the knowledge
about the relationship between humor and health, and hopefully implement
those results into the treatment of children and adolescents with
both serious and minor illnesses.
The research element will attempt to verify that laughter can actually
aid in the healing process and in pain management. Specifically,
there has been some suggestion that laughter can help the immune
system fight disease. The research component hopes to determine
if this is indeed the case. The Health Education/Entertainment element
will concentrate on educating and instructing patients about their
illness and treatment in an energetic, interesting and, most importantly,
comedic fashion. The objective of this element is to make the patient
a more active participant in his/her treatment by making it more
interesting to learn about their illness and treatment. The third
element, therapeutic entertainment, aims to alleviate the stress
of illness and to reduce pain in pediatric patients and their families
through the use of humor.
The project leadership team includes: Sherry Hilber who is the
Creator, Executive Producer and Executive Director of "Rx Laughter"
™ with experience as a primetime network executive overseeing
creative & management aspects of primetime comedy series for
the past several years; Margaret Stuber, M.D., UCLA Professor of
Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, Division of Child &
Adolescent Psychiatry, and Director of Child Psychiatry Liaison
Services at Mattel Children’s Hospital atUCLA; ;and Lonnie
Zeltzer, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics & Anesthesiology, Director,
Pediatric Pain Program, The Mattel Children’s Hospital at
UCLA, and Associate Director, Patients and Survivors Division, Cancer
Prevention and Control Research Branch, UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center.
Both Drs. Stuber and Zeltzer are active members of the UCLA Jonsson
Comprehensive Cancer Center. This pilot study is planned to be included
into the new state-of-the-art UCLA Hospital, expected to open in
2004, where there will be an emphasis on the healing of the mind
to better heal the body.
It has been repeatedly shown that laughter can promote well being.
That’s why COMEDY CENTRAL partnered with affiliates in 1998
to start the pro-social program, "Comedy Rx," in order
to heighten awareness of the positive effects of laughter, and make
positive contributions to local communities. "Comedy Rx"
has three levels of participation for affiliates. They can choose
a "Heavy Dose" by creating a comedy event with the proceeds
benefiting a hospital, hospice or similar health care facility;
a "Medium Dose" by sending a comedian to perform at a
hospital or similar care-giving facility, or by collecting books
and video tapes for a laughter library; or a "Light Dose"
by running "Comedy Rx" Public Service Announcements or
selling a sponsorship.
"Comedy Rx" events have benefited many local hospitals
across the country in addition to organizations such as Gilda’s
Club, The Wellness Community, American Cancer Society, United Way,
Make-a-Wish Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, Chris Farley Rebos
House, American Diabetes Association and March of Dimes.
COMEDY CENTRAL, the only all-comedy network is currently available
in over 62 million homes nationwide. COMEDY CENTRAL, a registered
trademark of Comedy Partners, is a 50-50 joint venture of Time Warner
Entertainment Company and Viacom. COMEDY CENTRAL’s Internet
address is http://www.comedycentral.com.