The Power of Giving is No Joke

Adam Sandler
Pictured from left to right: Judy Carter, Adam Sandler, & Shante Lewis

Last Wednesday night was a lifetime dream come true. I was onstage in a magnificent ballroom. Adam Sandler, Sacha Baron Cohen, Kathy Griffin, Rob Moore, Brad Grey, JJ Abrams, Patton Oswalt and Daryl Hannah were in the audience. And they were all laughing.

It was a benefit for a mentoring organization that has become a big part of my life - The Fulfillment Fund. Shante Lewis, the young woman I mentored, and I were asked to speak before they hit up the really rich people there to donate the really big bucks right there on the spot.
Red Carpet
Shante Lewis & Judy Carter being photographed walking down the red carpet prior to events.
They wanted us to tell the story of our relationship and the impact it had on Shante's journey from south-central LA to a Master's degree at Johns Hopkins University and a job as a therapist.

Shante and I spent hours writing and rehearsing a dialogue that condensed 14 years into 10 minutes. The night of the event we ended up sitting next to Kathy Griffin, who gave Shante some last-minute (and much-appreciated) advice.
Kathy Griffin
Judy Carter, Kathy Griffin, & Shante Lewis before dinner.

We took to the stage and it was all I could have hoped for, and more. We got laughs AND tears. The Fulfillment Fund got a lot of scholarship money. And afterwards, Sacha Baron Cohen stopped us to talk and Adam Sandler jumped out of his car to hug us. For real. There were witnesses.

Tom Higgenson, vocalist & guitarist for 
The Plain White T's with Judy Carter.

Patton Oswalt & Judy Carter in the green room.

There is a big lesson here. During my long career as a standup comic I had always hoped for the chance to perform in front of Hollywood's elite. And now I had finally gotten the opportunity to do just that, not because of what I do for a living, but because of what I did as a person -- my volunteer work. I was appreciated not just for my jokes or performance, but for the difference I made in another person's life. Wow.

As performers we spend most of our lives trying to get -- laughs, applause, the next gig. There is tremendous power in reversing that flow of energy and giving to another person or a cause without expecting or wanting anything in return. Sometimes it even makes dreams come true.

Here is an article about The Fulfillment Fund 2012 Stars Gala.
And here are more pictures of the event courtesy of Getty Images.
Tell me about your charity. I'd love to hear about them!

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Judy's Blog

Judy Carter blogs on comedy, storytelling and public speaking techniques, using personal stories and her adventures as a stand-up comic turned motivational public speaker. Her weekly blogs are read by fans of her books, “The Comedy Bible” (Simon and Schuster) and “The Message of You” (St. Martin’s Press), which include comics, speakers, and entrepreneurs. She is also known for teaching the value of humor and storytelling to businesses as a leadership and stress reduction tool.