We’ve all attended fundraisers — the spaghetti suppers, the car washes, buying those discount books. And sure, a fundraiser is a fundraiser. They’re wonderful to support, and they are a staple in our society. But what about a fundraiser that people are clamoring to attend? A fundraiser that you will attend multiple times for multiple organizations just because it is so much fun? That is what you have with Funny 4 Funds. The premise sounds simple; have people attend a night of comedy for a good cause. But Funny 4 Funds is so much more. “We’re your absolute one-stop shop from beginning to end,” Simas explains. “We teach you how to raise money before your fundraiser. We handle all the entertainment, we do all the graphics (for marketing), we print and cut tickets. We help with the room, we do the lights, the stage, we emcee, we even promote the raffle.”
What makes two local funnymen fundraising experts? Prior to joining forces, Bill and Mike had performed and produced 400 fundraisers separately. Many of us wouldn’t attend a tenth of that in our lifetimes — their experience is endless.
When you take a look at how Simas started in comedy, it is expected that he would gravitate toward something that would use his craft to help others. Simas started comedy young as a child. He wasn’t working the local comedy clubs, but as a child of divorced parents he learned early to write and gather material to make his birthday parties more comfortable. “I could feel the eggshells and the tension. So I would prepare jokes and stories to get both sides laughing. If people are laughing they forget about life.”
It is this early exercise in writing that lead him to write down material as an adult, with no expectation to perform it on a stage. And then life changed thanks to a bachelor party headlined by local comedian John Perrotta. At his friend’s insistence, Perrotta invited Simas to do an open mic night for three minutes. It lit a spark that brought Bill Simas to RI comedy.
Last September, Murray and Simas launched Funny 4 Funds. After a gig Murray did for Simas, Murray approached him about a business idea. He had the name and mission lined up, he just needed someone to take the leap with him. Murray told Simas, “We’re doing fundraisers separately. Together we could be a fundraising monster.” In the nine months since Funny 4 Funds began, this dynamic duo has helped local charities raise approximately a quarter of a million dollars. On average, their evenings raise $5,000 after expenses; however, there have been evenings that have raised $25,000.
Funny 4 Funds is a unique idea, something that we don’t always see — performers giving their all for a charity. Most comedians focus on the next gig, the next one that can be their big break, finding that next club that will allow them to hone their craft. “We built our own stage. Why not work your tail off to make a difference? No matter what you do, you want to make a mark, make a dent. And in the end, you made people laugh.”
And laugh they do! Be prepared when you attend a Funny 4 Funds performance; it’s like a workout for your sides, they will ache from laughter! The concept has become so popular that they had to branch out and assemble a team of 30 to 40 handpicked local comedians in order to accommodate every event. Some evenings Funny 4 Funds will be at three separate locations in Rhode Island.
Even with his busy schedule, Simas is asked to perform at different locations throughout the country. He has performed for Comix at Foxwoods, the Cabaret at Mohegan Sun, and Catch a Rising Star in Reno. The saying goes that laughter is the best medicine, and Funny 4 Funds demonstrate that every week throughout Rhode Island!
First gig? An open mic night from John Perrotta.
Favorite gig? Traveling to Reno for Catch a Rising Star
Favorite RI food? The tantalizing trifecta; Iggy’s stuffie, three clam cakes and chowder.
Favorite thing about making art in RI? I love when people don’t expect much because how good can RI be? And then we knock their socks off.
Personal mantra? Passion trumps everything.