Kenny Rogerson has lost track of how many times he has been on the bill for “Comics Come Home.” He thinks he’s done at least half of them, which is an accomplishment considering that Saturday’s show at the Agganis Arena will be the 19th. Besides host Denis Leary and his band, the lineup will feature Jimmy Fallon, Tracy Morgan, Lenny Clarke, John Mulaney, Gary Gulman, Robert Kelly, and Tom Cotter.
“Comics Come Home” is the brainchild of Leary and former Boston Bruin Cam Neely, now the team’s president. It began as a way for Leary to get some comedian friends together to help the Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care. A lot of the comedians know each other, which leads to a party atmosphere that often spills over to the stage.
“It’s like a big reunion,” says Rogerson. “Everyone’s happy to see each other, and you’re backstage and you get to act like fools and have fun.”
Getting to go onstage in front of a packed arena is certainly an enticement, and Rogerson says he would do a show like this every night of the week if he could. The fact that he is helping a charity makes it that much sweeter. “We get to have fun and do something nice for other people,” says Rogerson. “So that makes it more fun. It’s a good charity. I love both Cam and Denis. I’ve known them both for years.”
Many of the comics on the bill have roots in the Boston comedy scene, though in different eras. Clarke and Rogerson were part of the crowd that performed at the Ding Ho in Cambridge’s Inman Square in the early 1980s. Leary came on shortly after that. Cotter, who was the runner-up last season on “America’s Got Talent,” moved to Boston from Providence in the late 1980s. Gulman is a Peabody native who broke through on “Last Comic Standing.” Joining them on the “Comics Come Home” bill are some big names: Fallon, who takes over as host of “The Tonight Show” in February; Morgan, formerly of “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock”; and rising star Mulaney.
According to Danielle LaVoie, director of operations and events for the Neely Foundation, tickets have sold faster this year than in any other. “We had our comedian lineup pretty quickly,” she says. “That made a big difference. We actually opened up more seats, sold those out, added more, and those pretty much sold out. There might be a trickle of seats available.”
Neely started his foundation to honor his parents, Michael and Marlene, who both died of cancer. On Saturday, Neely will present a video that tells the story of his personal connection to his cause. “They’re going to get a little peek into the world of Cam growing up and who his parents were,” says LaVoie. “I think people will get a good feel for why he’s doing what he’s doing.”
Nick A. Zaino III can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.