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If there's a need, there's a benefit


Louie Anderson says he got “a really funny letter” from someone in Minnesota who was holding a backyard benefit, and encouraged him to stop by “if you’re in town.”

The comedian has lived in Las Vegas for years, but says, “I wish I was in town so I could stop by.”

However, Anderson will be part of a benefit next Sunday at the Plaza for his comedian friend Pam Matteson, who is battling cancer. So many comedians do live in our extended neighborhood, we can forget how many charity events they do for us.

It’s a sense of duty well expressed by Mark Shunock, the “Rock of Ages” actor who on Monday launches a monthly event called “Mondays Dark,” benefiting a different local charity each month (with the charity taking the initiative on ticket sales).

“I wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t for Las Vegas. Let’s help our neighbors,” says the Canadian who came to town a year ago to play narrator Lonny in the campy Broadway hit.

“There is responsibility. I’ve been in the business almost 20 years, and anytime you have a job in this business it’s a blessing. When you’re paid to do what you love, it’s a blessing. When ‘Rock of Ages’ came along, it couldn’t have come at a better time for me.”

“Mondays Dark” takes its name from most Broadway shows having Monday off. It will have singing guests such as Travis Cloer from “Jersey Boys” as well as a living-room interview segment with Dot-Marie Jones of “Glee.” The inaugural event at 9 p.m. Monday in the Hard Rock Hotel’s Body English club benefits Opportunity Village.

“It’s just in my blood to want to do events like this,” says Shunock, the son of a junior hockey league owner heavily involved in community outreach. “I think it’s in our genes to do something like this.”

The Matteson benefit at 4 p.m. on Nov. 24 is the second to help defray cancer treatment expenses for the Las Vegas stand-up comic and impressionist. Gordie Brown, Rich Little and Clint Holmes are among those joining Anderson on his home stage at the Plaza.

“This is a real person I have a real connection with,” says Anderson, who has known Matteson since they both worked The Comedy Store in the 1980s. “But yes, I get hit up every single day. People feel like they can ask me. I always respond, I can’t always do it, but I always try to help out.”

In the Facebook era, there is a risk of it becoming almost too easy to organize an event and get the word out. In Las Vegas, we’ve all seen shows where, as Anderson notes, “it feels like people are doing it to get to perform themselves.”

But we didn’t even need the Philippines typhoon to remind us there is always a need. And a personal satisfaction for those who help.

“If my being on a benefit helps sell more tickets, that’s a really great compliment for me,” Anderson says.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.