Last week's benefit concert for Greg Giraldo's family, "The Big Time Comedy Show," was a big-time success at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. Jerry Seinfeld, Lewis Black, Dave Attell, Colin Quinn, Nick DiPaolo, Jim Norton, Eddie Brill, Ted Alexandro and Jesse Joyce all brought just the right amount of humor to the event, aided by host Tom Papa.
Greg's widow, Maryann McAlpin-Giraldo, and the couple's three young sons were in attendance, too. Midway through the two-hour event, Maryann read a statement to the packed audience:
"From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being here at this event tonight. I'm very lucky and blessed to have so much love and support from so many people during this difficult time in our lives. My children will always remember how many people loved and respected their father. My own focus is to take my family's tragedy and turn it into something positive and good for others. Addiction is an illness that affects the entire family, and often the true victims are children. We're launching this fund in Greg's name to help children living within families of addiction. I believe that children must be educated, encouraged and empowered, and given the tools they need to make different choices in their lives. If anyone is interested in getting involved, there's information in the handouts you received tonight. I also am very lucky to have some of the best comedians in the world here tonight. These were not only Greg's contemporaries. They were his good friends. Please join me in thanking them for all of their time and support."
The hand-out brochure included information for The National Youth Recovery Foundation and The Greg Giraldo Fund.
Most of the comedians at last week's benefit concert stuck to delivering jokes that Giraldo would be proud to hear, although from time to time, they did acknowledge the man whose life they were celebrating.
"Thank you so much for coming. This is such a nice thing that you've done," Seinfeld said.
"How many phone calls did it take? A couple of phone calls. If Jerry said 'No,' we'd be screwed and there'd be like 40 people here. So Tom (Papa) made one phone call, and somehow he's being credited for being Mr. Charitable of 2011," Colin Quinn quipped, rushing over to fit in a set after his own one-man Broadway show.
"You're good people for coming down for this, because Greg, as you just saw, was one of the best fucking comics I've ever seen in my life. And I can't do it justice. We're all in awe of him, and we always will be." -- Dave Attell
"Greg was a great friend and a great comedian, so this is obviously sad, but also a joyous celebration. It's funny, because as the day approached, and even today, Greg's voice has been in my head all day, saying, 'Alexandro, if you can't get laid after my benefit, it ain't ever going to happen, dude. So, we'll see Greg. We'll see." -- Ted Alexandro
And after a highlight package of clips from Giraldo's stand-up specials and Comedy Central roast appearances, host Tom Papa also had a few words about his fallen colleague: "That was funny. Too damn funny. We started at the exact same time, and we would write material. It was our first year, and he was writing jokes about the differences between Protestants and Catholics. I was like, 'Dude. I'm working on a fart joke for six months.' Greg was completely off the hook. He was great."
This is only the beginning, of course, for fund-raising efforts for The Greg Giraldo Fund.
Giraldo's family and management are planning a similar all-star comedy benefit in Los Angeles, and Comedy Central is interviewing comedians for a separate tribute show.
At Columbia University, meanwhile, students and alumni have been putting together a Greg Giraldo Comedy Festival in March at his alma mater (Giraldo was a member of Columbia College's class of 1987, before going on to Harvard Law School). Todd Barry and Robert Kelly are the latest to sign on for the festival, which will take place March 7-8 at the university's Miller Theatre. Others slated to perform include fellow Columbia alums Gabe Liedman, Reese Waters and Lang Fisher, student comedy groups such as Chowdah, Cody Hess, Max Cohen, Christian Finnegan and Dwayne Perkins. All proceeds from the festival will go to the Giraldo Fund.