Comedy show Jan. 19 benefits New Orleans Abortion Fund




As a presidential administration widely feared to be hostile to reproductive rights takes office, women's health care observers make note of a significant date: Jan. 22, the 44th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion services. To mark the occasion, Paul Oswell's Thursday night comedy show Jan. 19 becomes "Night Church v. Roe v. Wade," a benefit for New Orleans Abortion Fund (NOAF).

This is the second benefit Oswell has hosted for NOAF, which connects women in need with financial resources to help pay for abortion services. His event last fall was such a success that NOAF got in touch with him to propose an event for the Roe anniversary.

Oswell says he's seen a stronger trend among New Orleans comics to be politically engaged in the past two years, noting that many local stand-up comedians work at nonprofits or in civil service. Such professional backgrounds make it easy to engage with social activism, and comedy shows are a natural choice for a fundraiser.

"[Comedy shows] are kind of perfectly placed to raise money quickly," he explains. "There's so few people needed to put on a stand-up show and so little equipment; all you need is a venue, really, and a microphone ... [and] most comics are sympathetic to the causes."

Comedians Jessica Hong, Kamari Stevens, Kate Mason, Julie Mitchell, Ted Orphan, Andrew Healan and Shannen Holahan are booked for the show — Oswell originally ran into trouble booking, because many local women comics are traveling to Washington, D.C. to participate in inauguration-related marches and protests, but he eventually fleshed out the lineup. There also will be ice cream provided by New Orleans Ice Cream Company.

Amy Irvin, NOAF executive director, says the show is a way to help supporters find joy in a contentious and challenging environment.

"Every year, [NOAF] objects to Louisiana state legislators who try to pass antichoice laws that are truly absurd in their cruelty to women," she said via email. "These benefit shows will give us and our supporters a break to laugh at this absurdity and to raise money to continue to assist women."

The event takes place Thursday, Jan. 19, at 8:30 p.m. at Sidney's Saloon (1200 St. Bernard Ave.) Admission is free.

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