For Chennaites, a chance to have a laugh and do your bit for children with cancer

Six of India’s top comics are coming together for Chennai Laughs, which will raise funds for the Mahesh Memorial Paediatric Oncology Centre.
For Chennaites, a chance to have a laugh and do your bit for children with cancer
For Chennaites, a chance to have a laugh and do your bit for children with cancer
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Sometimes giving for a good cause can be as simple as attending a night of rib-tickling comedy, complete with dinner, drinks and a fun after-party. Madras Round Table 1 (MRT1), which is well known for the ‘Chennai Gives’ charity drive that it conceptualised, is now looking to raise funds for a children’s cancer hospital with a stand-up comedy night called ‘Chennai Laughs’.

MRT1, a 59-year-old charitable round-table composed of members under the age of 40 that supports a variety of organisations working in education and for the well-being of children, is bringing together six of the top comics in India at the Hyatt Regency on Saturday, for the cause of paediatric cancer treatment.

Through the funds it raises at Chennai Laughs, MRT1 is hoping to fund a major expansion of facilities at the Mahesh Memorial Paediatric Oncology Centre (MMPCW), a cancer treatment centre dedicated to children. The target before MRT1 is Rs 3 crore, which will fund two new floors of the centre, says Ashvin Agarwal, one of MRT1’s funding convenors.

For the MMPCW, which has doubled the number of children it treats at any one time from 150 to 300 in the eight years since it was founded, this is a much-needed expansion. The treatment of children with cancer is very different from that of adults, points out Ashvin. “In paediatric cases, they have cancer but they are still kids. They need free space to move around, they need recreational areas, they still need to be educated,” observes Ashvin. And MMPCW provides such an enabling space free of cost, explains Ashvin. All of this makes it imperative that MMPCW is able to grow with the increasing number of patients it treats.

Through the years, MRT1 has supported a number of such causes. It’s “Keep Them in School” project for instance, raised funds for building 100 toilet blocks in underprivileged schools in Tamil Nadu, after they found that many girl children drop out due to a lack of toilets. The round table has also supported other cancer institutes like Ray of Light. Ashvin says that they settled on MMPCW this year because it is an important cause, and because its expansion requires a large amount of funds, and is a cause for which MRT1’s legacy and brand can contribute well to.  

While they didn’t conceive of Chennai Laughs with a specific connection to the cause of paediatric cancer treatment, says Ashvin, the event helps to reach out to people without overwhelming them with the gravity of cancer. What makes the event special for its audience, he adds, is that it brings together six very different comics on one stage. There’s Anuvab Pal, the screenwriter, playwright, novelist and comedian best known for his one-man show, “The Nation Wants to Know”.

Aditi Mittal, one of India’s first woman comics and today rated among the country’s top comics, will also take the stage. Joining her is Anu Menon, best known for the Malayali alter-ego she popularised on television – Lola Kutty.

Sundeep Rao, one of India’s few partially blind comics, engineer-turned-standup comedian, Azeem Banatwalla, and writer, theatre promoter and comic Ajit Saldanha round out the show.

Donor passes for the event on March 18 are priced at Rs 8,000. For details, contact MRT1 on +91 9445021736.

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