Jeff, Fred, Jeff

It’s been over a week and I still haven’t told you the story of the amazing event that was Comedy, Q’s and A’s with Fred Armisen, Jeff Garlin and Jeff Tweedy a fundraiser for my synagogue Emanuel Congregation.

The event was simply amazing. The next day I counted the cash and then sat on the couch calling people to talk about what a great event it was.

Things that that made it awesome.

Pre-show Parties

We’ve never done pre-show receptions for these concerts, but I wanted to see if we could get a more festive vibe in the synagogue. In the big social hall, we had pizza from Domino’s thanks to Ramon De Leon and a concert by the Matt Ryd trio. People drank the donated ESB from Ska Brewing and the Middle Sister wines from Wine Sisterhood. They shmoozed, laughed, mixed and mingled. It was a kick-ass party.

In the Patron lounge, a friend donated some fancy pants appetizers and Hum Spirits donated cocktails – Hum and Bubbly. People ate and drank while Stereo Sinai strummed. It didn’t have the same party vibe as the big room, but it was a great experience from those who chose to lounge there pre-show.

The Performers

All of the performers donated their time. Yes. Jeff Garlin from Curb Your Enthusiasm, Fred Armisen from Saturday Night Live and Jeff Tweedy from Wilco all performed for free. They were gracious and friendly. Good men, all of them.

The three even went off script by all doing the Q&A at the end of the show instead of just Fred Armisen. The interactive closing was just as fun as the main show. Thanks for being so cool!

The Gifts

In the first committee meeting, we talked about gifts to give the performers to say thank you. Now, I have always claimed to be a great gift giver and I really thought long and hard about what to give that would be personal and possibly useful. Come on – they are celebrities and make very good salaries, what do they need from us?

For Jeff Tweedy, I asked his brother in law for help and he suggested Superdawg gift certificates. Superdawg was super cool and donated gift certificates, toys and tshirts for the Tweedy’s. Thank you Superdawg!

For Jeff Garlin, I wanted to play off the fact that he’s playing a unicorn in Toy Story 3. I found a local crafter to make a unicorn yarmulke for him. He was gracious in accepting the silly gift and promised his son would wear it.

For Fred Armisen… well, I got confused about his wife’s character’s pregnancy on Mad Men and her real life not being pregnant and asked Threadless to donate a t-shirt and matching onesie. Threadless donated it and then I did some fact-checking. His wife (Elizabeth Moss) is not pregnant. I told the whole story on stage and he was also gracious about the mix up. Luck for us, Ska Brewing gave him custom drumsticks as well.

Thanks to Metropolis Coffee, Harris Theater and Ska Brewing for making gifts for our other performers and prizes for guests.

The Volunteers

So many people volunteered before and during the show. I heard from people attending that the volunteers seemed to be placed in perfect jobs for the night. I’m really grateful to everyone that helped – members, non-members, Jews and non-Jews. You all were wonderful and hopefully, all listed in the program.

The Sponsors

I think I’ve got most of the sponsors listed above as their donation came up in the story, but I know I got them all in the great program designed by my friend Chris Courtney. Thank you for making such a professional looking program for the event.

All in all

From a personal perspective, this was way more fun and rewarding than I expected it to be. I got to MC (because I made the executive decision to MC) and loved being onstage, even if just to make announcements and introductions. I miss doing stand-up comedy and while I do a lot of public speaking, I never get a 300 person crowd.

My not-so-secret dream that Fred or Jeff would be so amazed by my MCing prowess that they would 1. offer me a role on one of their shows or 2. do some celebrity match-making… that didn’t happen. But with a great team, we raised about $14,000 with only five weeks for planning, promotion and execution of a great, fun night.

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