COMICS RAY ROMANO, KEVIN JAMES AND WENDY LIEBMAN JOIN FORCES
TO RAISE MONEY FOR UCLA JONSSON CANCER CENTER STUDY EXAMINING THE
EFFECTS OF LAUGHTER ON THE IMMUNE SYSTEMS OF SICK CHILDREN
Tickets Go On Sale August 1 at the UCLA Central Ticket Office (310)
August 1, 2002 -- Television sitcom star and standup comic Ray
Romano will headline a comedy benefit at UCLA's Royce Hall to raise
money for Rx Laughter, a Jonsson Cancer Center study examining the
effects of laughter and humor on the immune systems of sick children
and adolescents. Tickets for the September 27 benefit go on sale
today (August 1) at the UCLA Central Ticket Office. For tickets,
which are priced at $30 (general admission), $60 (priority seating)
and $125 (VIP seating and post-event cocktail reception) call (310)
825-2101 between 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday or
visit www.uclalive.com. Appearing with Romano, star of "Everybody
Loves Raymond" on CBS, will be Kevin James, star of the CBS
show "The King of Queens," and standup comedian Wendy
Proceeds from ticket sales will fund research for Rx Laughter,
a first-of-its-kind study that is scientifically testing the theory
that laughter really is the best medicine for children and adolescents
dealing with painful procedures and life-threatening illnesses such
as cancer. The five-year study was launched in February 2000 with
a seed grant of $75,000 from cable TV network COMEDY CENTRAL. Researchers
have completed the first two phases of the study - determining which
classic and contemporary movies and television programs make children
and adolescents laugh and testing the impact of laughter and humorous
distraction on pain tolerance in a small group of healthy study
Preliminary data from this small pilot study indicates that watching
funny movies and TV programs helped study subjects to better tolerate
pain. The next phase of the study, which the benefit will help fund,
will examine the advantages of humor over other types of distraction
and the benefits of laughter for children and adolescents undergoing
medical procedures such as blood draws.
Leading the study are Dr. Lonnie Zeltzer, cancer researcher, professor
of Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Anesthesiology and director of the
Pediatric Pain Program at the Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA,
and Dr. Margaret Stuber, cancer researcher and professor in the
Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA
"Our ultimate goal is to help children who are hospitalized
and getting treatment for serious illnesses such as cancer and AIDS,
where the immune system is vital and improving it could be life-saving,"
Stuber said. "It's already been suggested that if you make
people laugh, they don't get as anxious and they deal better with
pain and do better in the hospital. What we don't know, and what
we hope to find out, is whether laughter actually makes a physical
difference in such things as speed of healing."
Stuber and Zeltzer will monitor physiological aspects of the stress
response, such as heart rate, blood pressure, palm sweats, the levels
of a stress-related hormone called cortisol, and various other immune
system factors to see if laughter can be used to help young patients.
Rx Laughter is a cooperative effort between cancer researchers
and the entertainment industry. The founder and president of Rx
Laughter is Sherry Dunay Hilber, a veteran primetime network executive.
Hilber brought her proposal to Stuber and Zeltzer, who worked closely
with her to develop a study plan.
As an extension of Rx Laughter, Hilber designed an in-hospital
comedy channel for pediatric hospitals. The system will include
special interactive devices to allow very ill children in protective
isolation areas to laugh together while they watch funny programming
in separate hospital rooms. The comedy channel system is being put
into place now at the Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA.
"I want to understand how comedy programs can be integrated
in treatment procedures to improve immune function and reduce pain
and anxiety," Hilber said. "As we learn more about how
Rx Laughter's research can help seriously ill children and adolescents,
we can implement an Rx Laughter Hospital Network at several hospitals
at one time, with an interactive component that allows children
and their families in treatment areas to communicate."
Hilber hopes the benefit, which is underwritten by COMEDY CENTRAL
and Adlink, will raise $100,000 for Rx Laughter. Supporting sponsors
of the event include PacifiCare and Wolfgang Puck Wood-Fired Pizza.
A four-time Emmy nominee for "Everybody Loves Raymond,"
Romano launched his standup career in New York in 1984 and has performed
at comedy clubs nationwide. His role in the hit CBS sitcom has also
earned him nominations for two Screen Actors Guild Awards. In 1999,
he received the Television Critics Association Award for outstanding
individual achievement in comedy. He also won a TV Guide Award for
actor of the year in a comedy series.
Best known as Doug Heffernan on "The King of Queens,"
James also began his career as a standup comic. He got his big break
at the 1996 Montreal Comedy Festival and then was cast in a recurring
role in "Everybody Loves Raymond" before landing his own
sitcom on CBS.
Liebman has performed standup comedy since 1984 and is best known
for her unique timing - the punch line comes after the joke seems
to be over. She's a regular guest on "The Late Show with David
Letterman" and has appeared on "The Tonight Show with
For more information about UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center, its people
and resources, visit our web site at www.cancer.mednet.ucla.edu.