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Globe Santa

At benefit, a handmade ornament makes for special moment

Members of the cast of the Improv Asylum’s “No Rest for the Wicked Funny” 24-hour show from Thursday night to Friday night joined Globe Santa program director Bill Connolly (with tie) in hailing the raising of more than $27,000 to benefit Globe Santa.
Members of the cast of the Improv Asylum’s “No Rest for the Wicked Funny” 24-hour show from Thursday night to Friday night joined Globe Santa program director Bill Connolly (with tie) in hailing the raising of more than $27,000 to benefit Globe Santa.(Justin Saglio for The Boston Globe)

The emotions of the holiday season and their effect on Globe Santa were on full display last Thursday night at Improv Asylum’s 12th annual “No Rest for the Wicked Funny” 24-hour show to benefit the Santa program. Following a comedy set featuring WBZ-TV’s Lisa Hughes improvising with Improv Asylum’s 24-hour cast, the auction portion of the show kicked off in magical fashion.

The first item up for bid was a holiday ornament handcrafted by an 8-year-old girl who made it specifically for the auction, said Chet Harding, co-owner of the North End-based Improv Asylum. “She knew the show raises money for kids to receive holiday gifts and helps families who are less fortunate, so she created a special ornament for the event. We thought it would be a nice, symbolic way to start the bidding on the way to the bigger main items.”

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As the bidding rose to $30, then $40, Improv alumnus Dan Faneuf stunned the crowd with a bid for $3,000, Harding said. Auctioneer and 24-hour cast member Evan Kaufman, who has performed on stage with Faneuf in the past, gave the microphone to Faneuf to address the crowd.

He talked about how he grew up less fortunate than a lot of the kids in his neighborhood. His family did not have much, he said, but always wanted to make the holidays special.

“It was the one day of the year that gave me hope, and I counted down the days every year,” Faneuf told the gathering, adding that to him, the joy that Globe Santa brings goes beyond the actual presents, allowing kids to hope and dream and giving families the chance to celebrate without worrying about money for presents they want to give.

He talked about how the theater and the casts he has performed with had helped him over the years, Harding said. Now, as a successful lawyer with his own law firm, he said he saw a chance to give back in a significant way. He then increased his bid to $10,000.

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By the end of the show on Friday evening, the event had generated some $27,000 for Globe Santa. In the 12 years that the Improv Asylum has hosted this benefit, more than $300,000 has been raised for the benefit of deserving children at Christmastime.

“It was amazing,” said Stacey Princi, co-producer of the event. “For him to be so generous to such a great cause as he came back to visit former castmates and colleagues — what a special moment.”


Thomas Mulvoy can be reached at thomas.mulvoy@globe.com.