1998, I formed Rx Laughter in an effort to use my experience as
a primetime network executive overseeing comedy programs to help
people who are ill. My belief from childhood --and even more so
during my tenure getting to know the "inside" world of
the television entertainment industry --has strengthened my conviction
that classic entertaining movies & shows help us feel better.
This is something that we all know intuitively.
Great movies & tv create memories for us - whether it is "Seinfeld",
"Friends", "I Love Lucy", "Shrek",
"The Wizard of Oz", "Harry Potter", "ET"
or the movies by legendary comedians such as Charlie Chaplin &
other great comedians too numerous to mention.
We remember how we felt when we laughed, who we were with while
we watched the movie or television program, and our discussions
about our favorite moments with our friends, co- workers and our
After some especially upsetting experiences that I encountered
personally with health care as an adult, I knew that I needed to
leave the entertainment industry to devote myself to helping people
who are sick by using funny movies & television in ways that
haven't quite been used before.
This was the best way that I could "use" who I was personally
& professionally in accordance with my values & beliefs
about what I was supposed to be doing with my life. I have not looked
back, even when times are tough & sacrifices have to be made
in order for Rx Laughter to continue on its path.
I envisioned Rx Laughter as a research-based, personalized, age
specific entertainment system that would offer these comedy programs
to seriously ill patients of all ages in all treatment areas at
hospitals nationwide in a more humanistic, caring environment.
Seeing someone you love smiling & enjoying themselves for a
moment, especially when they are ill, is a wonderful feeling. Children
& teens are the most vulnerable & impressionable. So, it
seemed natural to me to focus our efforts on helping seriously ill
pediatric patients -- and that by doing so, we'd be able to help
their family & close friends to feel better too. As we grew,
we could then also include Adult patients of all ages. (This is
now beginning to happen, thanks to so many people).
I chose UCLA School of Medicine for the start of Rx Laughter because
of their renowned reputation and desire to find innovative ways
of integrating emotional healing into the medical environment.
Dr. Stuber and Dr. Zeltzer, highly respected UCLA pediatric cancer
researchers and physicians, were immediately supportive of my Proposal.
Comedy Central became our seed funder. Our work began.
Since then, we have found intriguing preliminary data that suggests
that children and adolescents who laugh while watching funny programs
(television shows, films, cartoons) are able to withstand painful
procedures longer and with less overall anxiety. Now, our work at
Rx Laughter is focusing on putting these research findings into
practical health care settings.
I cannot express my gratitude enough to Ian Cook MD at the UCLA
School of Medicine for seeing the value in this project and to Dr.
Stuber & Dr. Zeltzer for their leap of faith, their kindness
& their devotion to our research in our first years. There are
countless Volunteers, physicians, Child Life Specialists, psychiatrists
and sponsors who put in countless hours of their time & have
given of their resources wholeheartedly and without reluctance.
It has made all the difference.
A very special thank you to Mr. Tony Fox and the team at Comedy
Central. When early requests for funding were met with indifference
or flat out rejection, Tony Fox and CC saw the need for comedy as
a healer during medical treatments & took a huge leap of faith
by seed funding our early research work with Dr. Stuber & Dr.
Zeltzer. Comedy Central continues to support our work and for this,
we remain forever grateful for "putting their money where their
values are", so to speak. Thank you.
It is one thing to have a personal & professional dream --
it's another to find those who have the same dream and want to see
it become a reality. I remain forever indebted to each & every
person who has helped turn this from a concept into a real entity
that helps people.
If you share my desire to improve health care so that it is more
personalized, humanized and less frightening, please click on "How
to Donate" and/ or "Benefits
of Sponsorship" to become involved
If you have any questions, please email us at RxLproject@aol.com,
or call us Monday thru Friday between 9am and 6pm PST. Our phone
number is 805 927-4197.
My sincere hope is that you find this information enjoyable and
informative. Let me know.
Sherry Dunay Hilber
Founder, Rx Laughter
The black and white photo on top of this page
was photographed exclusively for Rx Laughter, Courtesy of Leslie
Barton Photography. No reproduction or usage of any other kind elsewhere
is permitted. Thank you.