Almost a week later, many of us are still smiling. That’s how much fun we had at our HSUS Stand Up for Animals event last Wednesday night at the Avalon Hollywood in Los Angeles. It was a memorable night, as host Carol Leifer, along with fellow comedians Jay Leno, Feraz Ozel and Sarah Silverman, kept hundreds of friends and supporters of the HSUS laughing the whole time. The evening’s proceeds went directly to support the full range of HSUS programs, helping companion animals, farm animals, wildlife and animals in laboratories, among others. It wasn’t just a fun evening; it was a shot in the arm.
There’s something special about humor, as the comedian and political speechwriter Robert Orben once observed: “If you can laugh together, you can work together.” At Stand Up for Animals, Jay Leno may have said it best. “In these divisive times there’s one thing that brings all people together; republican, democrat, libertarian, no matter what you are, and that’s animals. I mean, all humans just have a need for animals. They help cure people, they help us have fun, they put us in a good mood, and here’s a chance for us to do something for them.”
Feraz Ozel sounded a similar note, stating simply, “Animal welfare is something everyone should be able to get behind. The Humane Society does essential work!”
Jay, Feraz and Sarah were there not simply because they all love animals and want to help them. They were also there because of their respect for and their close ties with Carol Leifer, who with her wife Lori Wolf, has been a stalwart friend and supporter of the HSUS for years. Carol was the magnet for this event and what a magnet she was, drawing together a handful of friends who happen to number among the greatest comedians around. Carol may be best known as a four-time Emmy nominee and a current writer and producer for HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, but it’s her compassion for animals that truly defines her.
Last year Carol hosted the first comedy show for us bringing together the talented Paul Reiser, Arsenio Hall and Kevin Nealon. It was such a success that I asked her to do it again. We could not be more appreciative for all that she has done and I’m personally delighted to learn that Carol had so much fun doing the show that she’s thinking of taking it on the road with us in the future.
The day-to-day work we do carries great challenges, the challenges of having to face animal cruelty directly, of having to operate on a frequently grim landscape for animals in the world and of having to fend off a disturbing array of threats. Given that burden, it’s good to be able to come together with friends and laugh a little. We’re grateful to Jay, Feraz and Sarah for standing up with us to help animals, and we’re especially indebted to Carol for giving so generously of herself and bringing us all together for a splendid evening of joy and laughter for a good cause.