They say laughter is the best medicine, and comedian Kyle Grooms has generated arena-sized doses of it. Now his fans and fellow stand ups are returning the favor, funding real medical treatment for the local comic.
After Grooms was rushed to the hospital due to a severe emergency, doctors made an unfortunate discovery — a brain tumor. The necessary treatment is expensive, and like many performers and other freelance workers, Grooms does not have health insurance.
That is why Grooms’ community, comprised of both fans and fellow comedians, are stepping in to help. Started by comedian Marina Franklin on behalf of Grooms’ loved ones, a GoFundMe page is collecting donations to help him pay his medical bills. $70,000 was raised in a matter of two days, with donations from comedy heavy hitters such as Chris Rock and Amy Schumer.
“We’re really about supporting the folks in our community,” said Rob Lee, organizer and host for Speakfridays at the Miami Light Box. “Kyle has been a consistent contributor to the program. It’s great to have a guy like that in our community.”
Grooms has been a fixture on Miami's small but growing comedy scene, performing regularly alongside groups like the Have-Nots and in venues from The Comedy Inn to the Corner. But you didn't have to see him in person to get acquainted with his work. Grooms has also appeared on NBC's Last Comic Standing, Chappelle's Show, and Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, among other shows, and also starred in his own Comedy Central special. Last year, New Times named him the city's best comedian.
Lee is setting up a benefit show to cover Kyle Grooms’ medical bills on March 29. It’s a variety show with comedy, music, poetry; all the things that Grooms supports and believes in.
Lee commented on the progress in Miami’s comedy scene, which Grooms has contributed greatly just by living in the city and performing here regularly. Most comedians make their homes in New York or Los Angeles. According to Lee, the fact that Grooms chose Miami helped to shore up interest in the comedy scene here.
“He’s the reason for the quality of our larger production shows,” said friend and Miami Comedy marketer Manny Garavito. “He has the ability to do high-end shows and a bar on a Monday or Tuesday night and the show will still have a buzz going.”
Grooms is known in comedy circles as an all-around decent guy. When D.C. comedian Rudy Wilson was making the jump to Miami, Grooms put in a good word for him with Manny Garavito.
“Working with Manny got me on a lot of shows,” Wilson said. “Kyle kind of gave his stamp of approval to Manny, which made Manny give me a shot, and helped me to excel.”
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Grooms is known around town as a laid-back guy. He was described as “easy going” by three different subjects interviewed for this article. It’s the sign of a man beloved by anyone who crosses his path.
“People see him once and go, ‘he was funny and he was nice too,’” said comic and Miami native Soo Ra, who worked on a series of digital projects with Grooms before heading off to New York herself. “He can make me laugh about something as boring as sawdust.”
Grooms' GoFundMe is still accepting donations.