Comedy can be used as a weapon against all sorts of things--bullies, frowns, horrible monsters--but its at its best when it uses its powers for good, especially when it comes to charitable causes. Here are five such instances!

1. Seth Rogen’s Hilarity For Charity

We’ll start with the obvious one: Hilarity For Charity, started by Seth and Lauren Rogen, which uses comedy variety shows to inspire change and raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease among the millennial generation. We just happen to be airing Hilarity For Charity’s latest event this Sunday, August 31st at 9ep, where you’ll see Seth host a roster of A1 comedians taped in July at Just For Laughs. Here’s Seth showing off his Canadian manners and a taste of the shows’s epic, Canadian finale:


2. Comic Relief

Started in 1985 in Britain in response to famine in Ethiopia, Comic Relief is the granddaddy of comedic fundraising, spawning an American counterpart and remaining a huge, national event across the pond. The main way the charity raises money is through “Red Nose Day”, a national day of comedy and fundraising culminating in a telethon. If you’ve seen the UK version of The Office, you’ll remember David Brent’s infamous Red Nose Day dance where he tries to upstage his counterpart, Neil:

The American version of Comic Relief was started in 1986 by Andy Kaufman collaborator, Bob Zmuda and aims to help the homeless. Robin Williams helped found the charity and hosted its maiden fundraiser with Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal. Here’s a classic Williams performance from 1994:

3. Pat Thornton’s 24 Hour Stand-Up Marathon

Every November for the last five years, the Toronto comedy community has congregated at Comedy Bar to help Pat Thornton perform 24 hours of stand-up to raise money for the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Since the first year, Pat has raised almost $100,000 for HIV/AIDS in Africa and has turned the event into an annual celebration of charity and comedy. The jokes often delve into the ridiculous and surreal, and one year after a pile of jokes about Kevin Sorbo eating garbage were written, the Hercules star himself made a Comedy Bar appearance for a weekend of shows with local sketch troupes and improvisers.
Turns out the guy actually is garbage, which makes it even more satisfying that his name was used to do some actual good in the world.

4. Night of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together for Autism Programs

Every two years, Comedy Central and Jon Stewart’s Busboy productions put on an ENOURMOUS show to benefit autism programs. The show features performances from the top names in comedy with past guests including George Clooney, Tina Fey, Adam Sandler, Tom Hanks and pretty much anyone you’ve ever heard of.

5. Comedy Gives Back

Comedy Gives Back describes itself as “a social benefit enterprise uniting traditional & digital native comics across platforms raising money for good causes” and puts on an annual tentpole event in the form of a 24 hour live streamed comedy extravaganza. Here’s a clip of Reggie Watts improvising a song about laundry from last year’s big event, which benefited Malaria No More: