Nationally renowned, Boston-based, stand-up comic Jim Lauletta leads the second annual Live Laugh Love benefit for the Boston Living Center
By Erik Borg
When standup comedian Jim Lauletta needed support, he turned to the Boston Living Center to get it. Now that he’s back on his feet, he’s organized a night of comedy to return the favor.
On January 27, the second-annual Live Laugh Love show will bring a handful of regional and national standup acts back to the Machine Nightclub in support of the Boston Living Center, an organization that provides education and support services for the HIV-positive community.
For Lauletta, a fixture of the Boston comedy scene and a regular guest in standup comedy specials and on stages in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, a night of comedy is the perfect pairing to benefit the organization with deeply personal ties.
After discovering his HIV-positive status in 2005, Lauletta went on a two-year tear of self-destructive behavior that unraveled his life and eventually landed him at rockbottom.
“I thought my life was over and I really wasn’t educated about HIV,” he said.
In 2007, Lauletta turned to the Boston Living Center for the support and education that finally helped him to begin to turn his life back around.
During those early days of recovery, he would perform free shows for the others members of Boston Living Center that he called “comedy therapy.”
In a way, the Live Laugh Love fundraiser is an extension of those early shows, he said. “They helped me get on my feet and so anything I can do to give back is important to me,” he said.
Lauletta, the host for the evening, will share the stage with six local and national acts, some of whom performed in Lauletta’s Big Gay Comedy Buffet troupe at the Boston Comedy Festival last year.
The line-up includes Ellen Moschetto, Jeffrey Norwood, Will Smalley, Thomas Patrick Naughton, Stacy Kendro, and Lady Kielbasa, plus a special guest or two, he said.
Standup comedy was once a mainstay of Boston nightlife in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but has taken fallen off with the closing of live venues and the rise of comedy specials on cable television.
Lauletta said he hopes audiences come out to experience “the magic” of live comedy, which has begun to make a comeback again.
“It doesn’t carry over well [to television],” he said. “If you go to a live comedy show, there’s nothing like it. It’s one of the best things you’ll ever see if the comedy is any good.”
He’ll also be using the stage for the difficult task of “coming out” with his HIV status in his comedy routine.
The predominately straight audience at comedy clubs often think he’s joking when he says he’s gay in his set, to say nothing of HIV, he explained.
“I’m walking through a lot of fear to do it,” he said, but “laughter is such a healing thing.”
Lauletta, a 24-year veteran of standup, said the payoff is what makes it worth the challenge.
“If I’m going to have purpose its going to be to help people,” he said. “I want to try to use my voice for something that will help people, so people don’t have to be afraid of it.” [x]
Live Laugh Love
Advance tickets can be purchased at the Victory Program's website: www.vpi.org.
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