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Globe Santa

Improv Asylum to host all-star benefit

Proceeds will go toward drive for Globe Santa

Meghna Chakrabarti, WBUR radio host, helped out Globe Santa with his fund drive on Newbury Street in Boston. Globe Santa has delivered gifts to families since 1956. Meghna Chakrabarti, WBUR radio host, helped out Globe Santa with his fund drive on Newbury Street in Boston. Globe Santa has delivered gifts to families since 1956. (MARY O’CONNOR FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE)
By Christopher Tangney
Globe Correspondent / December 14, 2011
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The holiday season is a time when people gather to celebrate with good friends and family; it is also when many folks feel compelled to help those in need.

And what better way to do both than by enjoying a night of side-splitting laughs from Boston’s best performers at the Improv Asylum’s “No Rest for the Wicked Funny,’’ the comedy club’s annual event to benefit Globe Santa?

The North End hot spot at 216 Hanover St. will hold its marathon production for the seventh straight year beginning Friday at 8 p.m. and continuing, nonstop, until 8 p.m. Saturday.

The once modest, yet ambitious, effort to support Globe Santa has grown into a fund-raising extravaganza that has raised close to $60,000 in the last two years alone.

“This has always been a grass-roots production, built in-house by people who donate their time and their talent,’’ said Stacey Princi, director of operations at the Improv Asylum and coproducer of No Rest for the Wicked Funny. “The event has really gathered its own momentum year after year.’’

Princi and coproducer Mike Anastasia launched the tradition in 2005 when Anastasia returned to the Hub after working at Chicago’s Second City.

The Chicago group put on a similar production to help needy families, and Anastasia was sure the idea would be a hit in Boston.

His intuition could not have been more on the money. In 2005, the inaugural “No Rest for the Wicked Funny’’ show raised $5,501.50 and every year since, the comedy fest has not only upped its fund-raising target; it has surpassed its goal.

Last year, the event generated $30,877.00, putting the six-year total at more than $90,000 to help children at Christmas.

This year’s 24-hour show will feature three live auctions, on Friday at 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., and on Saturday at 6 p.m., which are emceed by auctioneer Jim Wells.

Wells - like everyone involved with the production, from the organizers to the talent to the staff - volunteers his time to the cause.

The live auction items will include tickets to Patriots, Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox, and Boston College games; autographed sports memorabilia; theater tickets; ski passes; hotel and dinner packages; a New England history package that includes access to the John F. Kennedy library, Old North Church, Paul Revere house, and Museum of Science; and much more.

This year, the Improv has joined BiddingForGood.com to offer an online auction in which participants can vie for trips to Mexico, Montreal, Maine, and other destinations; scores of tickets to attractions and sporting events; spa packages; and other items.

Of course, the biggest draw at “No Rest for the Wicked Funny’’ is still the performers.

This year will again feature an all-star lineup alongside the multitalented men and women who put on comedy routines at the Hanover Street location on a nightly basis.

Steve Donovan from the New England Sports Network will be on hand to kick off the event on Friday night, as will Meredith Goldstein of the Globe staff and Boston comedy legend Tony V.

On Saturday, there will be a cooking demonstration with celebrity chef Dante de Magistris, as well as a new feature called “Kids on Stage.’’ in which youngsters can join the actors for impromptu performances.

The segment is expected to be a hit - with both performers and the children who take part - and fits well with the show’s overarching theme, Princi said.

“Improv Asylum wanted to get involved with an organization dedicated to helping kids, because we love to work with children, but as performers, we don’t get to do it as much as we’d like to,’’ Princi said. “We felt Globe Santa was the perfect match.’’

Since 1956, Globe Santa has delivered toys, books, games, and other presents to families that celebrate Christmas in the Santa Claus tradition.

And like the Improv’s “No Rest for the Wicked Funny,’’ which donates 100 percent of its proceeds to the fund drive, every dollar raised by Globe Santa is used to buy gifts for children.

The Boston Globe Foundation pays all administrative costs associated with the campaign.

Tickets for No Rest for the Wicked Funny are $20, but a suggested donation of $35 covers the holiday package for one child from Globe Santa.

For more information, go to www.improvasylum.com/norest, call 617-263-6887, or visit the box office at 216 Hanover Street. Tickets may be purchased at the door.

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