'Variety' Comedy Benefit Draws Big Laughs and Sponsor Attention

Photo: Michael Kovac/WireImage.com

On Saturday night, the second annual Variety Power of Comedy event at the Hollywood Palladium honored Amy Poehler and included a lineup of stand-up and sketch comedy performances. The event raised approximately $200,000 for the Noreen Fraser Foundation. About 1,400 guests turned out, including 400 V.I.P.s and 1,000 general admission attendees. Variety director of event marketing Kate Mazzuca produced the event and the show, where EA was the presenting sponsor, touting its game The Sims 3.

The late addition of an unexpected new sponsor necessitated some last-minute scrambling about a week before the event. “E! Entertainment reached out to us and said, 'We've been watching your events, we've been hearing amazing things, we would love to get involved.' They found us,” Mazzuca said. In the end, E! shot the entire event to run it exclusively on eonline.com.

“We work hard on smooth integration with sponsors, so you're not in a square-peg-round-hole situation. Everybody needs something different. For E!, what they wanted was content,” Mazzuca said. So the late tweaks involved coordinating the logistics of bringing in more cameras for high-quality footage and getting the cameras backstage.

Skype also sponsored, showing messages from Zach Glifianakis and Russell Brand, and included content that urged guests to give charitably—simultaneously showing off Skype technology.

Other comedic highlights of the night included Maya Rudolph singing a tribute to Poehler; Will Ferrell making out with Nick Kroll during Poehler’s acceptance speech; and the Dan Band performing a sexed-up cover of “Whenever, Wherever” by Shakira.

“It was a who's-who [in comedy] variety show, and it was raunchy, boozy, side-splittingly funny. The way I describe it to sponsors is, 'It's a very high-end, dirty comedy club,” Mazzuca said.

Power of Comedy is part of a Variety charitable series that also includes versions of the program honoring women, youth, and—slated to launch next year—music.

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