You want to hear something funny? There's a move out there to remove the name "Gilda" from Gilda's Club, the nonprofit organization that helps cancer patients and their friends and families.
That's not the funny part. The funny part is on stage tonight at the Arcade Comedy Theater, Downtown, where a collection of Pittsburgh's top female comedians will be presenting "Always Gilda," raising funds to keep the memory of Gilda Radner alive.
Radner, of course, was one of the ground-breaking women in the original cast of "Saturday Night Live" in the mid- to late-1970s. She died of ovarian cancer in 1989. The organization was founded by Radner's psychotherapist, with chapters all across the country, including Gilda's Club of Western Pa.
"We have eight talented female comedians from all over Pittsburgh coming together and supporting this group," said Kristy Nolen, one of the five founders of Arcade Comedy Theater. "So it's not just our friends. We tried to reach out to other theaters.
"I don't see it as competition. The more comedy that's out there, the more collaborative we are, the more we get the message of comedy out there, the more audience we get and the happier we all are."
Ms. Nolen, a native of Pittsburgh, spent 10 years studying improv comedy with Second City in Chicago. Then she invested eight years in Los Angeles pursuing a career there before moving home to Upper St. Clair.
You never know where comedy will lead. It's funny.
But Pittsburgh is a hotbed of har-dee-har-hars.
"It seems to us and the people that we talk to that Pittsburgh is just in the middle of an explosion of comedy," Ms. Nolen said. "Every night of the week you can go somewhere and see stand-up comedy happening. There is an open mike night, there are a number of venues doing improv. It really seems to be at the beginning of something big.
"In Chicago, it's not unlikely to have a class at one theater, then go perform at another, and then go have drinks at another. That's what I really hope happens here. This is a city that really supports the arts in ways that a lot of other cities don't.
"I think there are people that are looking for affordable live entertainment, and that's what this is. You know, the Benedum's great and Heinz Hall is great. The Cabaret Theater, they're all fantastic venues. But there's no way you can see live entertainment for $10. I mean, you can't even see a movie for $10 anymore.
"So come on down here. Normally, we are a BYOB theater, but tonight we have a sponsor so there's free cake and free beer tonight."
Free cake and beer! I'm already starting to giggle.
The Arcade Comedy Theater opened in mid-February. The club currently hosts two comedy shows each Friday and Saturday night.
"It's all comedy, all the time with some of Pittsburgh's best comedians," Ms. Nolen said. "Stand-up, improv, musical acts and vaudeville. We're just opening our doors. We've had some nibbles from better-known comedians and some phone conversations with some booking agents, but that's something that's still 'to come.' Right now, our focus is on featuring Pittsburgh's talent."
And if that doesn't keep the ribs tickled, the Arcade is intent on developing up-and-coming comics.
"We have an educational department where we're teaching improv and stand-up," Ms. Nolen said, "so we're hoping to grow our own future comedians."
But tonight stars the current crop of comedians -- with a nod to one of the greats of the past.
"Kristy and I really identify with being women in comedy," said Abby Fudor, a co-founder of the Arcade. "I have a background in theater. And when I was in theater I didn't think about the disparity between men and women, because there are plenty of women in theater.
"Then I got into comedy and it's a male-dominated field. Lately, I hear that it's getting easier to be a lady in comedy, with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. But I think it's good that we all remember that there were pioneers before that and Gildna Radner was one of those people. That's a huge issue for us.
"So tonight we're having a full night of lady comedy. My hope is that Gilda is somewhere smiling. Maybe even laughing."
"Always Gilda" at Arcade Comedy Theater, 811 Liberty Ave., is made up of two shows. One at 8 p.m. and another at 10. Though tickets are usually $10, tonight's event is $20. Because it's a fundraiser, damn it!
If you have a suggestion for something to do some evening, let us know about it and we'll see if we can get some of our friends to join you. Contact Dan Majors at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1456. This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/