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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Jeff Wild and ‘Chelsea Lately’ crew roll in to Tucson for benefit show

    Photo+by%3A+Jeff+Lipsky%2FE%21
    Jeff Lipsky
    Photo by: Jeff Lipsky/E!

    Tucson’s comedy culture is getting some star power this weekend, as the cast of popular E! Entertainment network program “Chelsea Lately” is set to take the stage at the Fox Tucson Theatre this Saturday for a charity event.

    Chris Franjola, Fortune Feimster, Sarah Colonna and Jeff “Jiffy” Wild, who have all appeared on the late-night program since its debut in 2007, will be performing au gratis at the “Broken Halos” comedy show, which benefits Angel Charity. The local organization raises money for children in need, according to Amanda Saffer, the charity’s general chairwoman.

    Wild is also Saffer’s brother-in-law and spent most of his childhood in Tucson, attendinh Salpointe Catholic High School. After graduating from the University of Southern California in 2001, he eventually began working at the E! Entertainment network on shows like “The Soup,” “E! News” and “True Hollywood Story.” More than five years ago, Wild’s boss came forward with a proposition: to work in the art department of a new program hosted by comedian Chelsea Handler.

    “I started working on [the show], and it was supposed to be just like an 8-week run,” Wild said. “But the show just got so successful and popular that it just kept going and going.”

    After getting better acquainted with Handler off the set, it didn’t take long for Wild to venture outside of the art department. But when she offered him a spot on the round table — the section of the show where Handler discusses pop culture and current events with a group of comedians and other guests — he graciously declined.

    Handler, however, wouldn’t take no for an answer.

    “A couple weeks later the booker for the show came up to me and was like, ‘Hey, Chelsea booked you for the table, you’re on in two weeks.’ And I was like ‘Oh, OK,’” Wild said with a laugh.

    After the round table appearance, Wild started appearing on the show regularly and was eventually made a writer. He also tours with other cast members when the show isn’t taping, performing both spoken and musical comedy as part of an opening set.

    Describing the once-foreign world of stand up comedy as both “horrifying and really amazing,” Wild attributes part of his and his castmates’ “steady incline of fortune” on the show to Handler.
    “She’s been really great,” Wild added. “She’s like, the most generous, helpful, coolest person I’ve ever known.”

    So when the chance came to spread a bit of that good fortune back in Tucson via his sister-in-law and Angel Charity, Wild didn’t hesitate to reach out to his co-workers for a good cause.

    “I wasn’t really sure if they’d be interested in helping out because everybody’s doing it for free and giving up a weekend,” Wild said. “But everyone I asked said yes and I actually had to turn some people away.”

    Saffer said the charity still needs to raise $855,000 to meet its goal this year, which will aid its two chosen beneficiaries, Our Family Services and The Tucson Nursery School. All money raised will go toward building a new crisis center for children ages 12-17, equipped with services that are unique to the county, according to Saffer, and retiring the mortgage of the latter organization so it can “serve more infants and toddlers.”

    Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Angel Charity has helped approximately 1 million children in Pima County by raising more than $21 million, which funded 68 projects that directly assisted community children in need, according to an economic impact report conducted in 2011 by Eller College of Management students.

    Saffer said she is hopeful that the show will act as a final push toward raising those funds, and is “so grateful” for the enthusiastic response she’s seen from both their sponsors and the general community.

    “We do our due diligence,” she said. “We just really make sure that we take care of our donors and make sure that their money is going to the right places.”

    Wild said the audience can expect a night of fast-paced jokes and “constant laughing,” but said he’s still feeling the nerves of returning home to friends and family on such a high profile note.
    “But, it’s not about me,” he added. “It’s about the charity.”

    If you go: Angel Charity’s “Broken Halos” Comedy Show with the cast of “Chelsea Lately” at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27 at the Fox Tucson Theatre, located at 17 W. Congress St. All ticket proceeds will go directly to children in need, and are priced at $20 for students (2-for-1 special), general $35-60 and $90 for VIP tickets, which includes a meet-and-greet with the comedians before the show. Tickets can be purchased online at the Fox website, www.foxtucsontheatre.org, or by phone (520) 547-3040.

    Follow us on Twitter @wildcatarts and follow Kate @katenewton18.

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