Funnies for Families was created by comedians Kristie Gunter and Rockland Pickard to help families laugh through difficult times.
“I think it helps them concentrate on something else, no matter what they’re going through,” said Kristie Gunter, co-founder of Funnies for Families.
What began as a passion project within a group of friends has grown into an organization with 80 professionally trained comedians all donating their time doing 10 shows a month visiting children and their families in hospitals, shelters and care centres like the Ronald McDonald House Charities Toronto.
“We offer more than just a place to stay for families,” said Ami Armagost, program coordinator at Ronald McDonald House Charities Toronto.
“We offer a range of programs to help them get to a better place emotionally.”
“We started right here at this Ronald McDonald House about four years ago,” said Rockland Pickard, co-founder of Funnies for Families. “We saw immediately what an impact it had.”
“It’s really special to see them just sitting on the couches, relaxing and then having these big belly laughs,” Armagost said.
A typical show is a half-hour filled with family-friendly improve comedy and is extremely interactive for children.
“I had finished my own training at the Second City Training Centre and wanted to do something more with comedy,” Gunter said.
“It’s fun to go to bars and comedy clubs and perform there but we really felt like we could do something good with our skills.”
What started off as a monthly performance at Ronald McDonald House has grown into a weekly highlight for the children and their families. It’s fast becoming the most popular program.
“We’re very thankful for Funnies for Families and the time and the talent that they have donated at Ronald McDonald House Toronto to make a difference,” Armagost said.