Laughter Best Medicine at CF Fundraiser
By David DeRocco
As an illness with no known cure that primarily affects children and young adults, Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is no laughing matter. However, to the friends and family of an amazing young man who recently lost his battle with CF, a night of laughter is exactly the medicine they're prescribing to help those suffering the disease.
PAYING IT FORWARD: A MEMORIAL BENEFIT SHOW is a night of comedy in honour of MacKenzie Merritt, a renowned and gifted Niagara-based graffiti artist, athlete and beloved son who succumbed to CF in December 2017. And according to his mother, the comedy event is a fitting tribute to a 23-year-old man who relied on laughter to ease his pain.
“With his ability to find the funny every day and that giant perma-smile, a comedy fundraiser is the perfect fit,” says Patricia Vollick, who is coordinating a massive prize raffle as part of the fundraising event. Father Scott Merritt agrees that comedy is an apt tribute for the son he called "Kenz."
“MacKenzie was a very funny guy with a wicked, sometimes dry sense of humour,” said Merritt, founder of Merritt Artist Management. “He had the craziest, most infectious laugh I’ve ever heard. Once he started he just couldn’t stop which got everyone around him laughing. Hopefully some good laughter in memory of my son will be good for all of our souls, as the past three months have been incredibly difficult.”
The CF fundraiser is being staged March 29th at Showtime Comedy in downtown St. Catharines and features the comic collective known as Touch of Grey Comedy, along with veteran Niagara funnyman Mark Matthews as special guest. Show host and Touch of Grey founder David Sokolowski says he and fellow comics Thomas Patrice, Xulf Ali and Barry Carter are four like-minded Southern Ontario stand-ups who have recently began performing shows under the group moniker.
“We’re all kind of older guys who are past the partying stage,” says Sokolowski, an eight-year veteran of the comedy scene. “We’ve done a couple shows together and we’ve really hit it off. We’ve all got the same brand and style of comedy, not too outrageous or over the top. It’s just worked out well.”
Sokolowski agrees that the wisdom of age has helped eliminate any concern about content and self-censorship in this age of PC sensitivity.
“I think not caring actually broadens the type of comedy we can do,” said Sokolowski, who lists George Carlin and Robin Williams as his inspirations. “I can have all these opinions and not worry about whether the audience doesn’t like me or if they’re offended. We’re aiming for the older crowd, people in their late 30s to mid and late 40s and 50s. They’re not the snowflake generation that says ‘oh you’ve triggered me, I have to go into therapy.’”
The night will definitely prove to be therapeutic for the family according to Merritt, who says the “Pay it Forward” theme is a nod to MacKenzie’s unwavering trait of giving unselfishly to others.
“MacKenzie was a very giving person, a kind soul, sometimes to a fault. He would give you the shirt off his back. At the funeral we asked all to pay it forward in MacKenzie’s honour. This is an extension of that. We’re paying it forward with proceeds from the event and awesome prize raffles to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.”
Tickets to the event are $20 and available now at the club or online at TouchOfGreyComedy@gmail.com. Tickets are limited so buy now!