LOL for a Cause Expands Goals for Literacy
After a year of shows, fundraising, and story time with elementary students, Language of Laughter (also known as LOL for a Cause) continues to strive towards larger goals in 2017. A local nonprofit, LOL presents shows featuring Denton comedians to raise revenue for purchasing books for kids along with community engagement. In a interview with co-founder Stu Hollowell, he stated “LOL promotes comedians to promote kids.”
The nonprofit has used its fundraising from shows to assist six different organizations including Friends of the Family, Newton Rayzor Elementary, Betty Meyers Middle school and UNT’s Child Development Lab. The nonprofit also recently filled out a federal application to become a national charity in the hopes of being able to hold larger shows and provide more books for kids in the Denton community.
Apart from simply hosting comedy shows, LOL also features many comedians in story time with local elementary students.
“We like to bring the comedians in to read to the kids after we’ve had the comedy shows ‘cause they’re natural performers, they’re storytellers so they tell their stories on stage for adults and then they love to come and tell stories for the kids,” Hollowell explained.
However, story time serves another purpose. After the story time portion, the members of Language of Laughter have the attendees write their own stories in an effort to promote literacy.
“The first story we had the kids write, they titled, ‘Max the Ninja Dinosaur,’ and it was an adorable tale of two dinosaurs [who] put aside their differences to escape a volcano. They were also ninjas,” he said.
In lieu of the students writing the story, LOL partnered with an illustrator to create Max and print out the work and frame it for the students.
“Those kids’ story is hanging up in their teacher’s classroom so they can always remember, just look and see the creations they come up with have a life outside of them. We hope to keep doing that and we hope to do more and eventually publish a book of them. That’s the big long-term goal we got,” he said.
The comedy shows interspersed with story time for the children also form a sense of community through the creative outlets.
“The families that meet at our story time are becoming some friends because they share a love for community organizations and just this town,” Hollowell added. “It’s cool to be able to entertain the parents at our comedy shows at night, and two weeks later, see those parents with their kids being entertained at story time.”
In terms of expanding their reach in 2017, the nonprofit collectively decided to continue focusing on the area of bilingual education and literacy.
“Given recent political happenings, a lot of the bilingual students of Denton and Texas . . . they don’t have the active support. There is a possibility they’ll have even less going forward, so we’re staying with that as our main focus: promoting bilingual education,” Hollowell added.
Leading into next year, Language of Laughter will also be strongly involved in the planning of the 2017 Denton Comedy Festival. Another project of the nonprofit includes the creation of "The Denton Comedy Album." Hollowell elaborates that this will be a compilation of recordings from previous shows in 2016 and 2017. The album will be sold through Discover Denton and online with proceeds going to assist LOL in continuing to assist the kids. He credits the Denton comedy scene for helping sustain the nonprofit through collectively working together to help promote one another while donating their time to performing at LOL shows and story time.
“LOL is 100% dependent on the comedy scene. I always say it’s kind of only possible in a place like Denton because so many people are willing to give their time, but also it’s such an entertainment town,” he added. “There would be no LOL without the comedy scene here and I’m incredibly grateful to Joe Coffee, Taylor Higginbotham, and all those other comics that help make Denton Comedy what it is.”
Language of Laughter gladly accepts volunteers, especially educators or people with childcare experience in assisting with story time. Members of the community can also assist just by attending a show hosted by LOL.
“Honestly, the reason why I love this organization so much is the number one way people can help is by coming to see shows, coming to laugh, and just by coming to laugh, they’re helping kids receive the books they need for education programs in Denton,” he said.
Through many make-or-break moments and resounding successes, the collective motivation of the individuals who encompass Language of Laughter are optimistic towards the future in terms of helping students achieve literacy.
“We’ve received so many handwritten notes scribbled in crayon from a lot of the elementary kids that we’ve donated books to. I have to hope that those were genuine and we have made an impact on kids lives,” Hollowell concluded.
Header image design by Brittany Keeton