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Avery Pearson On Helping Struggling Comedians


For every big name comic with their own HBO special, there are thousands of stand-up comedians who struggle just to make ends meet. The charity Comedy Gives Back tries to help working comics in times of need. Sixty comedians have come together to record a song and music video called "Christmas Magic."


AVERY PEARSON: (Singing) Sleigh bells ring the same in every single country.

ADAM DEVINE: (Singing) In every mall around the world, the Santa smells like lunchmeat.

SIMON: Yeah, Santas smell like lunch meat, that's what they said. They're comedians ostensibly, after all. Mary Lynn Rajskub, Richard Lewis, Adam Carolla, Sasheer Zamata and Avery Pearson are among the comics. Avery Pearson co-wrote the song. He joins us now from the studios of NPR West. Thanks so much for being with us.

PEARSON: Thanks for having me. What a pleasure.

SIMON: Help us understand the life of a working comic.

PEARSON: Well, it's - there's a duality to it, I find. It's incredibly fun and gratifying and electric. And when you're on stage, you know, the energy that you're getting from the audience is second to none. It's also very difficult to get stage time.

The road can be incredibly fun. You know, when you start doing the road, and you're in different cities every weekend, it's so much fun. It's a blast. And then after a while, you know, you're just out there. And so yeah, it's incredibly exhilarating and also can be difficult and lonely.

SIMON: Well, I got to get you to talk about the difficult part because that's how the song comes about, right?

PEARSON: Sure. Yes, it does. Yeah, the song came about like - I can talk about that. So the song came about - I've always thought it was really funny, the "We Are The World" song. I thought it was just a funny concept. And it's these, like, big, huge singers just singing like so (singing) we are the world. Like, it was just so much. And I always wanted to do something to parody it.


UNIDENTIFIED COMEDIANS: (Singing) So let's join hands and stand in a circle of harmony. Let's spread the joy by spending every dollar of our money. Whoever you are, wherever you're from, Christmas magic is for everyone.

SIMON: There are a lot of people who do this for a living - this is not a big newsflash - who don't have medical care because they don't have a regular gig, who sometimes need attention to their emotional state of mind, who sometimes need addiction counseling.

PEARSON: Yeah. Yeah. And a lot of them are my friends and people that I've come up with in comedy. And that's sort of - that's really how this sort of thing came about. You know, there's all these - I don't want to get into the union thing - but there's a lot of support systems with - like for MusiCares or the Actors Fund. And comedians don't have anything. We have this, like, brotherhood and sisterhood of people that like - we help each other. We help each other move forward. But there's no one really helping us to be able to pay for, like, going to the doctor or if there's a financial crisis or just anything. There's nowhere to go, and it's very difficult.

But we need to do this. And we need to perform for you. And we need to make you laugh. There's something - you talk to a comedian, they just need to be there. There's, like, this driving force. But there's no safety net to catch us. And that's what Comedy Gives Back is about. And that is why I was so excited to create this, like, massive "We Are the World" song with them.

SIMON: Avery Pearson, co-writer of the song "Christmas Magic." And every download benefits - what do we call the group?

PEARSON: Comedy Gives Back. Please follow @ComedyGivesBack.

SIMON: Thanks so much for being with us.

PEARSON: Oh, my pleasure. Thanks so much for having me. It's a pleasure.


ADAM CONOVER: (Singing) It's just another corporate, greedy, Capitalist Christmas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.