Local community and business leaders will try their hand and standup comedy on Friday. | File Photo

Standing on a stage in front of an audience is anxiety-inducing for most of us, but add to that trying to make people laugh, and you’ve got yourself a bit of a challenge. This is the idea behind the 10th annual “Night of a Thousand Laughs,” a fundraiser for Gilda’s Club Louisville that’ll take place on Friday, May 17, at the Louisville Palace.

The event takes well-known business and community leaders and makes them perform standup for a few minutes, hopefully garnering a few laughs and helping raise funds for the local nonprofit that provides social and emotional support to families living with cancer.

Participants this year include Karen Lawrence, a local philanthropist who just so happens to be the mother of Jennifer Lawrence, bourbon author and expert Bernie Lubbers, Sharon Allen of Tri-Arrows Aluminum, Rob King of Northwestern Mutual, and Alli Truttman of Wicked Sheets.

Mandee McKelvey won Comedian of the Year at the Carney Awards. | Photo by Lou Tingle

For the past few weeks, the comedy rookies have been working with local comic veterans Mandee McKelvey and Keith McGill for some expert advice. McKelvey also will headline the event, which has raised thousands of dollars for the organization in years past.

According to Stephanie Fellon, founder of Gilda’s “Night of a Thousand Laughs,” it’s not as difficult as it might seem getting people to attempt standup.

“The number of people who graciously step outside of their comfort zones to support Gilda’s is high, and we are forever grateful to them,” she tells Insider. “We do try and keep the show diverse and balance the mix of performers. Sometimes getting that balance just right can be challenging, but the community response has been great.”

Fellon is most looking forward to seeing which jokes each participant decides to use.

“They have been working so hard, and it will be fun to see all that work come to fruition,” she adds.

The event will be hosted by Interapt’s Ankur Gopal, who participated in a previous “Night of a Thousand Laughs” and wasn’t too frightened by the spotlight not to return to the stage.

“Night of a Thousand Laughs” takes place at the Louisville Palace on Friday, May 17, at 7:15 p.m. There’s also a VIP reception and dinner that begin at 5:30 p.m., and an after party that starts around 9:30 p.m.

Tickets to the comedy show only are $50, while a Party Pass, which includes an open bar during and after the show, is $95, and the VIP dinner, which includes everything mentioned previously, is $200.

Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."