Did You Hear the One About…
…the business that brings comedians and social causes together on the same stage?

PAUL K. SUGRUE ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT AWARD: COMIC CURE

By Bob Woods

 

“If laughter is the best medicine, then we are the pharmacy.” Benjamin Leis (BA ’04) loves to use that line; not only is it clever and funny, it also sums up the notion behind Comic Cure, his two-year-old business that books comedians for live performances across the country. The medicinal reference is to the fact that each showcase raises money for a charity or social cause, such as cancer research, homelessness and LGBT rights.

After graduation, Leis embarked on a career as a social entrepreneur, then he returned to the University to work in fundraising, ultimately as director of affinity giving and crowdfunding programs. He left that job in 2015, looking to tackle social needs on a larger scale. But first he visited his brother Richy in Los Angeles, where Richy worked as a stand-up comedian and booking director for one of LA’s largest comedy clubs.

Leis attended some of his sibling’s shows, and besides laughing at routines by the likes of Dana Carvey, Steve-O and Elayne Boosler, he marveled at the performers’ engrossing connection with their audiences. Then the light bulb went on: What if he and Richy joined forces to use the unifying power of laughter to engage communities around important causes?

Within a few months, Comic Cure was up and running. “It’s a perfect blending of my brother’s passion for comedy and my passion for service to the community,” Leis says. In its first year, the for-profit business benefited 20 Miami-area charities while showcasing 140 local comedians. Comic Cure has since gone on the road to Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

That success, along with growing revenues and plans to franchise the model nationwide, impressed the competition’s judges, who rewarded Leis with the Paul K. Sugrue Entrepreneurial Spirit Award. “Writing the business plan and receiving the award gave us a huge boost of positivity and confidence that we’re on the right track,” he says.

Spring 2017
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