The Hippo


May 28, 2020








Joe Yannetty

 Comedy Benefit for Joe Yannetty

When: Wednesday, Aug. 27, at 6 p.m.
Where: Arena Sports Bar & Nightclub, 53 High St., Nashua
Tickets: $10/door – see
More: To donate, go to  

Funny for a friend
Fellow comics help Joe Yannetty with benefit

By Michael Witthaus

 Cancer is no joking matter; but for Joe Yannetty, laughter is one of the best treatments. Last February, the veteran comic was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma. Fortunately, it’s treatable, but recovery can take up to a year. During that time, he’s sidelined from doing his standup act.

“He can’t talk … and without his voice, he can’t work,” said friend and fellow comic Alana Susko recently. “Even if he felt like it, he can’t.”
Yannetty’s fellow funny men and women have jumped into action on his behalf. Literally from coast to coast, they are organizing benefits to cover costs that insurance doesn’t — and to lift his spirits. Three regional fundraisers happened in April, June and July, featuring friends like Lenny Clarke, Tony V. Jim McCue and Mike McDonald. Bill Burr (The Heat, Date Night) organized a sold-out night in July at L.A.’s Comedy and Magic Club, where Jay Leno autographed a motorcycle jacket donated for auction.
Susko met Yannetty at a comedy class four or five years ago. Later, she booked him to do shows for her company Comedy on Purpose at Fody’s Tavern, White Birch and Arena Sports Bar. The latter club is the site of a five-comic fundraiser for Yannetty on Wednesday, Aug. 27. “He’s a great guy, naturally funny,” said Susko recently. “He’s your brother, your cousin, once you know him.”
Offered a chance to organize a show for her friend, Susko didn’t hesitate. 
“I can tell you cancer friggin’ sucks,” she said — and the costs can seem endless. “One of the reasons I wanted to do this for Joey is because he’s a grown-up with grown-up expenses, and bills don’t get paid by themselves.”
Initially, Susko planned to perform, but a burgeoning list of comics wanting in “trumped me,” she said. The latest addition is Jim Lauletta, whose credits include HBO, Comedy Central and A&E’s Caroline’s Comedy Hour. Lauletta missed a recent benefit in Chelsea, Mass., and was itching to do his part. 
The rest of the lineup includes Dave Russo (NESN Dirty Water, Last Comic Standing), Nita Dunn and Danny Gill. Opening the show is singer/guitarist Del Stephens, playing everything from Irish songs to Elvis covers. More performers are still a possibility — an embarrassment of riches, Susko said.
“If it happens, then someone else will get trumped,” she said.
Susko has done plenty of work on behalf of people hurting and in need — her business is called Comedy on Purpose for a reason. At such events, the laughs are leavened — but only a bit. Don’t start with “how y’all doin’?” in other words. 
“We tell folks to set their cell phones to pleasure mode,” said Susko. “We remind them that we’re here to bring a little joy into the evening, a little fun into the night. Our goal at every show is they feel better when they leave than when they walked in.”
Fellow comic Mike Koutrobis is managing the money coming in for Yannetty. 
“Joe’s natural comedic ability has been an inspiration to all of us,” Koutrobis wrote in a recent email. “On stage I look at him as a mentor and a teacher, while offstage he is my best friend. … To watch him go through this obstacle course that we call cancer and see all the ups and downs he has dealt with just reaffirms what I already knew; Joe is a fighter.”
For his part, Yannetty’s spirits remain high. Cancer, he wrote on his Web page, “is just going to be a minor setback. If laughter is truly the best medicine, my friends will have me healed … hell, 30 minutes with Lenny Clarke has to be worth at least three chemo treatments, and a round of radiation.” 

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