Laughs raise cash for stroke victims

Dave Shinall

Two Western students, a recent graduate and a former student plan to use their wit and stamina this weekend en route to a comedy marathon world record to benefit stroke victims.

The four make up the improvisational comedy troupe Sunshine Express. To set the new record, they must stay awake and funny for more than 27 hours.

“There’s a group in Texas called The Well Hung Jury, and they did 27 hours,” said Justin Dobring, a former Western drama student from Cincinnati. “That’s the world record. So, we decided we’d up the ante and go for 28.”

The event, at Public Theater of Kentucky on Chestnut Street, starts at 6 p.m. Friday and continues until 10 p.m. Saturday.

Half of the show’s proceeds benefit the National Aphasia Association.

“Usually, when someone gets a stroke, they get aphasia. It’s where they can still think, but they can’t communicate,” said Sunshine Express’s Gabe McKinney, who graduated from Western in December.

Jason Meares, a senior from Hendersonville, Tenn., is another member of Sunshine Express. His godfather suffers from aphasia.

The other half of the show’s proceeds will pay the show’s expenses and help send Sunshine Express to St. Louis to be part of an even bigger comedy benefit in September, Meares said.

“(The benefit) is for the Chris Farley Foundation, which teaches teens and preteens the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse,” Meares said.

To fill 28 hours, Sunshine Express plans a send up of motivational speakers and a speciality of Saturday Night Live comedian Chris Farley, who died of a drug overdose in 1997.

Also on the program are music and television spoofs, which the audience will help to select, individual stand-up routines and a panel discussion called Ask Dr. Know-It-All.

“As far as our material during the show, we’re going to do everything that we know how to do and more,” Meares said.

Staying funny for 28 hours will be the big hurdle for Sunshine Express.

“We make no promises of quality. Only quantity,” said Frank Muller, a senior from Newburgh, Ind.

“But having said that, I do think that it will be very funny and very worthwhile. I have enough faith in myself and the rest of our group here that we will persevere and succeed,” Muller said.

Ticket prices are $10 for non-students, $8 for students and $3 for children under 12. Ticket holders get wristbands allowing them to leave and return as many times as they like during the 28-hour performance.

Dave Shinall can be reached at [email protected]