Comedian Mark Eddie said he's always enjoyed making people laugh ever since he started combining music and comedy in his unique brand of singing and joking about musicians.
But it wasn't until people started telling him how much his comedy meant to them that he saw that he needed to keep giving back to the world as much as he could, he said.
One man came up to him after a show and told him that, for the first time in more than a year, his wife had laughed. She had stopped laughing after the death of their son in Iraq, the man told Eddie.
Mark Eddie combines comedy and music for his act that will headline the first “Laugh?United” fundraiser at the Blair County?Convention Center.
"You never know what kind of situation someone might be in,'' Eddie said. "I began to realize just how important it is to do these kinds of fundraisers.''
Eddie, 48, who lives in Southern California, will appear April 4 at the Blair County Convention Center in the first "Laugh United'' fundraiser to benefit the United Way of Blair County.
A native of Steubenville, Ohio, Eddie is a former rock musician who toured with music legends including Jackson Browne and Melissa Etheridge before he decided to become a comedian.
If you go
What: Laugh United fundraiser dinner for United Way of Blair County, featuring comedian Mark Eddie, with other acts including comedian Aaron Kleiber, magician Richard Magiacarne and a local improv act
Where: Blair County Convention Center,?Altoona
When: 5:30 p.m. April 4
Details: Tickets are $45; reservations will be made only if you buy a full table of eight, which is $360; For tickets, call the United Way office at 944-0884, stop by the office at 5414 Sixth Ave., Suite C, Altoona, by Thursday, or online at www. unitedwayofblaircounty.org
He said he took a few years longer to graduate from college, but he eventually graduated with a bachelor's degree in business.
For several years after college, he worked in business making commercials and doing voiceovers.
Eventually, he, his wife and their two daughters moved to California.
He got into comedy because when he was singing - either with the band he'd formed in college or later as a solo act on the coffeehouse circuit - he used to tell funny stories in between songs.
"I always had this little inner comic in me,'' he said.
A few years ago, the United Way tried a musical fundraiser but found the event was competing with a lot of other musical events in the area, organizers said. So they were looking for another type of entertainment option when one of the board members suggested Eddie. The board member had seen Eddie on Comedy Central.
"We thought laughter is something that's good for you, and we thought it's something that would appeal to a lot of people,'' said Dorcey Cuzzolina, resource development director for the United Way.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will help pay for United Way grants that agencies across Blair County apply for during the year, said United Way Chief Proficiency Officer Robin Beck. The agencies must show a need for the grants and also later demonstrate in writing to United Way how the grant money was used and how many people were served by the money the agency got from United Way.
By using this paper trail, both the United Way and the people who donate to the charity are assured that the contributions are used responsibly, Beck said.
Beck also emphasized that money donated to the United Way stays in the local community.