Richard Smith: Your chance to do good and have fun in one night

Richard SmithThis is a shameless plug for a charity comedy night on 31 May where we have the two great doctor comics, Harry Hill and Phil Hammond, Ian Roberts (the laughing professor), my brother, Arthur Smith, and other excellent comics. The charity is the Klevis Kola Foundation (KKF), which was founded by medical students and provides services for refugees and asylum seekers. I’ve blogged about it before and described it as a triple winner in that the refugees and asylum seekers, society, and the medical students are all winners.

I’m a trustee of the charity, and anybody who has had anything to with charities knows the value of “unrestricted funds”—funds you can spend on anything. KKF has many grants, but they are usually for specific projects—making it hard to do good things that are not attractive to funders and to keep the organisation running. We are hoping for 550 people, and so long as you can drink £1500 of drinks (surely nothing to medical students) we are quids in.

The comics are all performing for free. Harry Hill will be known to everybody and was once a medical student at St George’s, the medical school that gave birth to the foundation. Phil Hammond is not only a successful comic but also a GP, the author of MD in Private Eye, and after his experiences in Bristol in the 80s and 90s, a tireless campaigner for improving safety. Ian Roberts is a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, author of Energy Glut, a book that shows how climate warming and the global pandemic of obesity have the same causes—our addiction to cheap energy, particularly fossil fuels. Ian turned to comedy to get his message to a wider audience.

Elena Procupio is an outrageous comedian who has performed across Britain, in New York, and in her native Romania. Chris Turner, a young Oxford graduate, has been nominated for a prestigious award. Tiffany Stevenson is an actress and a self described “word whore” who has appeared in stage in several countries and often on television.

The show will be compered by my brother, Arthur Smith, “Radio 4’s bit of rough,” who is so well known through the television programme Grumpy Old Men that you rarely see his name without the adjective grumpy. People constantly come up to him and say “I’m grumpy too. You should be prime minister.” It’s a source of great pride to me to have such a talented brother—even if I’m doomed to be the eternal straight man and in his autobiography he writes about the boy who lived with us who I discovered was my brother.

The show is next Thursday at Clapham Grand—just across from Clapham Junction, which is only four minutes from both Victoria and Waterloo. Be brave and come “sarf” of the river. As my brother says, “North of the river they have blue plaques saying ‘Chopin played here.’ South of the river we have big, yellow signs saying ‘Did you see this murder?’ ”

If you come, be sure to come and say hello. I’ll buy you a drink—even if there are a hundred of you. Lots of BMJ folk will be there.

For more information and tickets access:

Richard Smith was the editor of the BMJ until 2004 and is director of the United Health Group’s chronic disease initiative.