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To Help the Homeless, Comedy's Heaviest Hitters Cheerfully Pitched Relief and Raised $7.5 Million

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It’s a shame we have to do this,” said Robert Klein after the end of HBO’s fourth Comic Relief, which raised $7.5 million for America’s homeless. “It’s sad to think that this is necessary so that someone can eat.” Still, comedy is comedy, and an all-star telecast is an all-star telecast. “It’s a hell of a funny show,” said Klein. “And probably a lot too long.”

This year’s 4½-hour laffathon, live from Radio City Music Hall, boasted co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal and Robin Williams and a lineup of 40-plus yukmeisters, including Elayne Boosler, Richard Lewis, Bob Goldthwait and Steven Wright. Audrey Meadows basked in the nostalgic glow of a reunion with fellow Honeymooners Joyce Randolph and Art Carney, but lamented the absence of the late Jackie Gleason. Said Meadows: “I know he’s seeing this and saying, ‘Look at those three making arses of themselves.’ ”

But homelessness was where the heart was. Bob Saget said he’d like to introduce that and other tough themes on Full House—something he might have trouble doing on his other show, America’s Funniest Home Videos. Danny Aiello confessed that, having grown up with six siblings, “I had a tremendous fear of becoming homeless.”

Paul Rodriguez admitted that he had been homeless. “I’ve slept in a car,” he said. “It’s not nice.” But Rodriguez feels he’s in good company. “I mean, it happened to Brent Musburger”—the former CBS sportscaster who recently woke up without a network over his head. “It can happen to anybody.”