Reflecting on the recent 12-hour "comedython", organised to raise funds for Hong Kong Dog Rescue, Bernard Rodrigues has no trouble identifying the principal reason which made the event such a success.
"There was great teamwork and co-operation with everyone pulling together to make it happen," says the hotel general manager of Charterhouse Causeway Bay, which provided the venue. "We have been organising stand-up comedy nights for quite a long time, so when the idea came up to do something extra for a good cause, we had no hesitation in agreeing."
The basic plan, which started to take shape back in February, was to arrange a first-of-its-kind event in Hong Kong to generate fun, plenty of laughs and, more importantly, money to donate to a chosen charity. The outcome was a non-stop comedy marathon, running from 1pm to 1am and featuring stand-up, improvisation, open mike sessions and skits put together by some of the best known performers on the local comedy circuit.
"During the day, there were over 40 comedians taking part, with performances in English, Cantonese and Putonghua," Rodrigues says.
"We had a great response. The bar was busy most of the day and we were able to raise HK$60,000 to help Hong Kong Dog Rescue with their move to new premises and general operating costs."
Rodrigues is quick to point out that credit for the original idea goes to Jami Gong, founder of SoHo-based TakeOut Comedy.
"We had the talent, the Charterhouse had the venue and the staff to run the event for us, and volunteers from Dog Rescue were responsible for the door," Gong says. "It was a good team effort between the three of us. We kept things as simple as possible, so there was minimal stress, but everything ran smoothly and we all had some fun."
His interest in supporting this particular charity started back in 2007. Wanting a dog for companionship, he was introduced to Dog Rescue by a comedian friend who worked there as a volunteer, and ended up taking home a "mutt".
The idea for the "comedython" was sparked by the simple fact that there are now enough regular performers on the local scene - including a few invited from Shenzhen - to make it possible.
One of those performers, Pete Grella, is delighted with how well things went. "We had a great audience and the time went much quicker than I had expected," Grella says. "The show had different types of comedy, so there was something for everyone and, overall, people loved it."
Rodrigues, too, reached the same conclusion and is already thinking ahead. "The guests had a lot of fun, and people are looking forward to another show," he says. "We know that Dog Rescue is still looking for a permanent site and there are also other charities we want to support."
Hong Kong's "first ever" comedy marathon raised HK$60,000 for a local charity
The organisers' aim was to make an impact while having some fun
A paying audience of more than 200 contributed to the fundraising drive