1. Headline
  1. Headline
Image: Jon Stewart
Mark J. Terrill  /  AP file
Jon Stewart will host the second biannual "Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Benefit for Autism Education" on April 13 at the Beacon Theater in New York.
updated 4/9/2008 10:21:14 PM ET 2008-04-10T02:21:14

Benefits on TV are rife with their own cliches: the busy phone banks in the background, the giant-sized checks, the drumrolls, the tote board. So when comedians gather to raise money for autism education this weekend, you can expect the event itself to be spoofed.

“Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Benefit for Autism Education” promises to be a benefit — and a parody of a benefit.

“If we can convince people we’re just kidding, maybe they think they’re giving us fake money,” said Jon Stewart, who’s reprising his role as host.

The live, two-hour Comedy Central special (8 p.m. EST Sunday) will raise money for schools and education programs for autistic children and adults, with some of the money going to the advocacy group Autism Speaks. The last “Night of Too Many Stars” in October 2006 raised more than $2.6 million.

  1. More Entertainment stories
    1. Autistic ballerina dances her way into hearts

      In a popular YouTube video, the beaming little ballerina dances an entire four-minute routine seemingly perfectly, matchin...

    2. Every on-screen drink in 'Mad Men' in 5 minutes
    3. See the 'Dancing' stars' most memorable moves
    4. Emmy's biggest snubs? Cranston, Hamm, more
    5. 'Toy Story' toys burn up in prank on mom

Both have been spearheaded by Robert Smigel, best known for his character Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Smigel, whose son Daniel is autistic, is well-known and respected among comedians, and it’s his connections that drew glut of talent.

Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert, Sarah Silverman, Amy Poehler and many others will be performing standup, sketches and presenting short films at New York’s Beacon Theater.

Striking the right balance of laughs and seriousness isn’t easy — particularly for a comedian as subversive as Smigel. (The “TV Funhouse” cartoons on “Saturday Night Live” are also his doing — as are the moving lips of famous people’s photos on O’Brien’s “Late Night.”)

Slideshow: Celebrity Sightings “We want to be funny enough that they laugh, but not so funny that they don’t think it’s real,” said Smigel. “We try to walk that line carefully. Yes, we really want people to call in and give real money and not ironically funny money.”

Autism education clearly is a real issue for Smigel, who has had difficulty finding good schools for his son.

“It’s bleak for a lot of parents,” Smigel said. “As hard as it was to have our son diagnosed, it’s even harder to imagine the frustration of parents who just can’t get what they need for their child.”

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Joan Lunden: 10 things I wish I knew before I was diagnosed with breast cancer

    From the moment you hear the words ‘You have breast cancer,’ it’s almost like you’re shot out of a cannon. Here are 10 things I wish I knew before I was diagnosed.

    10/1/2014 10:52:45 AM +00:00 2014-10-01T10:52:45
  2. Want to help? A guide to breast cancer charities

    In the United States an estimated 296,000 women and 2,240 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and almost 40,000 women and 410 men will die of the disease. That's one death every 14 minutes, according to the National Breast Cancer Coalition.

    10/1/2014 10:45:11 AM +00:00 2014-10-01T10:45:11
  3. Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
  1. Nbc News

    9 things we learned from Brian Williams' Facebook chat

    10/2/2014 1:41:28 AM +00:00 2014-10-02T01:41:28
  1. Noel Vasquez / Getty Images Contributor

    Mila Kunis,  Ashton Kutcher welcome baby girl

    10/2/2014 1:24:09 AM +00:00 2014-10-02T01:24:09
  1. Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

    Secret Service director resigns amid scandal

    10/1/2014 7:30:52 PM +00:00 2014-10-01T19:30:52
  1. Texas Ebola patient had contact with kids

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry said in a press conference on Wednesday that “some school-age children” had been identified as having contact with the man diagnosed with the first case of Ebola in the United States. 

    10/1/2014 5:37:52 PM +00:00 2014-10-01T17:37:52