The economy may be down in the dumps, but southern California comedy institution  Laugh Factory and owner Jamie Masada are doing whatever necessary to lift people up, and keeping his club top of mind in the process. First on its spirit stimulus agenda: its new show for the unemployed, Laughing with the Stars. Admission to the show, held Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10 p.m. the Hollywood location and Thursdays at 8 p.m. the Long Beach venue, is free to anyone who can show proof of unemployment or an unemployment check stub.

Also a part of Masada’s mood-bettering mission: He is petitioning Congress for a $700,000 fund to send struggling comics out to perform for the economically depressed. “Laugh Factory Hollywood and Long Beach and all of our comedians feel like we have a serious responsibility to cheer people up from their troubles and worries. A comedy show can have a tremendous healing effect on a person’s state of mind,” says Masada in a statement.

Masada, who created the Laugh Factory at age 16 in 1979, anticipates such an effort would help cut back on anti-depressant medicine costs, medical bills and suicide rates of the economically depressed while at the same time helping bolster the spirits and careers of the aspiring comedians.

The third tier of his agenda: improving the emotional state of service men and women overseas. At the end of May, Laugh Factory and K-EARTH 101 Radio hosted a show to raise money for the USO, which provides morale, support and recreation activities to U.S. troops. At the event, stars including Tom Arnold, Paul Rodriguez, Tom Dreesen and Tom Papa were featured, while five members of the armed forces competed for funniest service member. Each performed three minutes of stand-up comedy; all performances are available online at The winner received $1,000 in cash, $4,000 in gift certificates and an encore performance at the Hollywood Laugh Factory. All other contestants received $1,000 in gift certificates.

Some of Masada’s other philanthropic efforts include keeping the comedy club open on Thanksgiving and Christmas to provide free dinners and entertainment to the homeless and struggling artists, and running The Laugh Factory Comedy Camp for underprivileged and at-risk kids, which has been teaching children the ins and outs of comedy since 1984.

The situations Masada works to remedy may be no laughing matter, but he certainly wants to help give those struggling something to laugh about.


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