Comedians and Activists Join Forces in Durham to Benefit Reproductive Rights

This article, written by Elizabeth Sills, originally appeared in the Daily Tar Heel.

A group of comedians is partnering with the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League of North Carolina, also known as NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, for the Abort Mission comedy benefit at Durham’s Durty Bull Brewing Company on Wednesday, Sept. 25 from 8 to 10 p.m.

The show will include performances from five comedians, including comic and North Carolina native Hilliary Begley, who was recently featured in the Netflix film “Dumplin’.”

“The people who are in the show are all really funny,” Begley said. “Plus, we’re donating the money to NARAL North Carolina, which is an excellent organization and is specific to North Carolina.”

The show is produced by one of the performing comedians, Bridgette Martin, who has spent the past few weeks performing similar benefits around the United States.

“I’m just looking for different cities where people are interested in helping raise money for reproductive rights,” Martin said. “Because honestly, it’s a hot-button issue right now and it’s something that I’m really passionate about.”

Martin and her group of comedians have performed in cities across the Southeast, including shows in Nashville and New Orleans. Portions of the ticket sales are donated to the partner organization in each city.

Martin said she reached out to NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, an organization that advocates for safe reproductive healthcare and reproductive rights, because they serve a statewide community. Martin said that while donations to larger advocacy organizations are important, it is the work that smaller organizations do on the local level that the benefit is focusing on.

“There was a story a little while ago where I believe it was, like, Ariana Grande had donated to Planned Parenthood, which is great, but the money really helps at the local level,” Martin said.

Martin said she has found that groups like NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina are eager to get involved because they serve a smaller community and want to advocate for the people they serve within that community.

“All of the organizations that I have worked with have been super helpful,” Martin said. “It’s imperative that they’re able to raise these funds to continue doing the work that they’re doing.”

NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina is excited to be a part of the event and is hopeful that it will bring awareness to the work that the organization does, said Tara Romano, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina.

“We feel like it’s a great opportunity to bring folks out who care about the issue and want to be supportive, and also be in a community with other people who also share those values,” Romano said.

In addition to the comedy portion of the evening, Romano said representatives from NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, will have a table with information about how to get involved in the Triangle area, as well as in other communities around North Carolina.

“It really is about people raising their individual voices about why abortion access and reproductive healthcare is important to them,” Romano said. “That’s what’s going to make the difference in keeping abortion access safe and legal in North Carolina.”

Martin said she is fully aware of the contradiction between comedy and infringement on reproductive rights.

“Reproductive rights being taken away from people is not a funny thing, there’s nothing funny about it,” Martin said. “But being able to kind of come out for an hour and a half and just kind of forget about everything bad, forget about anything that doesn't make you happy and just relax and have a good time — I think it really kind of helps reset people and recharge them.”

The collaboration’s main goal is to create an opportunity for community members to enjoy a night of comedy while supporting an issue important to them.

“People want to laugh," Martin said. "People need to laugh. There’s just depressing stuff going on all the time, so if we can laugh and do something good, it’s just the perfect pairing.”

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