A pair of Ocean Park residents and two comedians are looking to make you laugh for a cause Tuesday night. You won’t have to leave your couch, but your dollars will go towards putting a new roof over somebody’s head.
Comedians Jake Johannsen and Cristela Alonzo’s credits include HBO, Netflix and Showtime specials, an ABC TV series and the most Letterman appearances ever. Now, they’re pairing up for a special fundraiser in support of GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles, an organization that uses a volunteer model to install solar panels in underserved communities at no cost.
In the past decade, GRID Alternatives has installed more than 2,000 solar systems for low-income households, according to Ocean Park resident Belinda Waymouth, who recently said the organization has done a lot for clean energy, but even more for communities, families, and folks who deserve a second chance.
“We do that because it’s a social justice issue. The thing with climate change is climate change is affecting all of us, but it’s really affecting underserved and low income communities of color…. L.A has the biggest urban oil field of any city in the U.S. and those aren’t in Brentwood,” Waymouth said. “They’re east of the 405 and people are getting asthma, nosebleeds and nausea because they have to live next to them.”
One of the biggest problems facing the nonprofit when it goes to give people free solar options is that the underserved communities often have underperforming roofs that don’t allow for solar installation. And while GRID has grants that allow them to purchase and install solar panels, the volunteers must find ways to repair the roofs themselves.
“This is why we host fundraisers,” Waymouth said, “so we can fix the leaky substandard roof and install the panels… It’s really a win-win-win,” because people are getting their roofs fixed, bringing their utility bills down to single-digit dollar amounts, all while helping the environment, Waymouth added, mentioning GRID has already raised $7,500, which she believes will be a tremendous assistance to dozens of families in the region.
“What I love about this work is that for far too long, we’ve always treated being eco friendly to saving the planet as a luxury,” but it’s so much more than that. And Tuesday is so much more than a comedy show, Alonzo said. “The truth is that it’s something that’s a necessity, especially for where we are right now and the time that we are in at this moment. So, when Belinda asked me to do this with her husband Jake, who is so funny, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. It’s perfect because my standup actually comes from a world where I like to talk about a subject and important issues but in a funny way. So people come to my show and leave feeling like they learned something. You can almost say it’s like I tricked them.”
GRID isn’t one to host a comedy show or night for fundraisers so there is some pressure to live up to expectations, Alonzo added, but she and her comedic partner are ready for Tuesday’s show, which begins at 6 p.m.
Tickets are still on sale now at bit.ly/2L0wfQK, and every dollar raised for this event will be matched, Waymouth said, which is partly why her husband agreed to perform for the benefit.
Johannsen said these few months in the pandemic have been the longest he’s ever gone without being on stage but he feels like he and Alonzo have the starpower to keep guests entertained for the hour-and-a-half show.
“Even though we’re all on lockdown, I thought that this would be fun; to have a conversation with Cristela, who is a wonderful comedian. I believe in us and it’s for a very good cause,” Johannsen said. “So, I think it should be a fun night and we’ll hopefully raise a couple of dollars for a great cause.”