Russell Simmons has seen the devastation of the coronavirus crisis and its effect on his hometown of New York City and the rest of the world. Now the iconic hip-hop and business mogul is bringing back one of his legendary creations to help raise money for those devastated by the pandemic.
Simmons is leading a group of producers who, on Sunday will premiere “Def Comedy Jam Presents: Healing Through Laughter,” a marathon fundraiser hosted by famed comedian Cedric the Entertainer.
The program will air online beginning at 10 p.m. EST, and Simmons’ Instagram page will be updated to provide more information. Simmons has established a crowdfunding page with a goal of $100,000 to assist those in need.
“Let’s begin to fund the effort to raise money and awareness to make sure people putting their life on the line to work in our communities have the safety kits they need,” Simmons wrote on Twitter.
As of Thursday, New York state had more than 92,300 confirmed coronavirus cases, including approximately 52,000 in New York City. New York accounts for 42 percent of the virus-related deaths in the United States, and hospitals around the Empire State and, in particular, throughout the Big Apple, have been overwhelmed with cases.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state has stockpile contained 2,200 ventilators, but about 350 new patients daily needed them.
“2,200 disappears very quickly,” Cuomo said, the New York Times reported.
The goal of the “Def Comedy Jam” marathon is to raise funds to provide basic needs for essential workers in vulnerable and underserved communities.
Supplies include items such as hand sanitizer and masks for the most vulnerable communities affected by COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Simmons said 100 percent of the proceeds raised would be used to benefit individuals in inner-city communities — specifically his native borough of Queens, which has been highlighted as the hardest-hit area in New York City.
“Brave and inspiring people within the community are putting up a valiant fight against COVID-19, we must support them,” Simmons said.
The original “Def Comedy Jam” aired on HBO from 1992 to 1997 and featured such talent as Martin Lawrence, Chris Tucker and Bernie Mac. Simmons had said he was inspired to create the original “Def Comedy Jam” after watching Jerry Lewis’ “The Nutty Professor.”
The fundraiser reboot is produced by Erica Ford of the nonprofit Life Camp, Inc., Gushcloud, O’Neal McKnight, Bob Sumner, Althea Lim and Simmons’ Rush Philanthropic.
“Def Comedy Jam: Healing Through Laughter” will feature the show’s original DJ, Kid Capri. It will include comedians Spice Adams, Tony Baker, Gary Owen, Mike Epps, Sommore, Bill Bellamy, Affion Crockett, Deon Cole, Corey Holcomb, Ashima Franklin, Adele Givens, Jess Hilarious, DL Hughley, JB Smoove and Michael Blackson.
While a host of other comedians are expected to join, those making their debut under the “Def Comedy Jam” umbrella are GC Studio’s Reggie Couz, KMoore The Goat, and Kellye Hardy. DJ Cassidy will lead an afterparty.
Supplies purchased and collected will be distributed among essential workers in the city, specifically in Queens and Brooklyn boroughs. Supplies will also go to Rush Philanthropic’s surrounding community in the Logan section of Philadelphia.
“The purpose of this Def Comedy Jam marathon is to support our community through laughter and communication. But, we are in desperate need of safety equipment for essential workers in the hood,” Simmons wrote.