Miami comic Julie Baez couldn't make sense of her mother’s untimely passing from colon cancer; she was only in her 50s and had been relatively healthy in the years before she contracted the illness.
“She was not overweight; she looked very young [and] looked great for her age,” Baez says. The comedian was moved by her mother's plight, and felt compelled to use her gift for gab in service of spreading awareness around what she calls "a silent, deadly disease.”
Utilizing her connections in Miami’s comedy scene, Baez has organized an upcoming holiday show at the Miami Improv to raise funds for the Julia Rubio Colon Cancer Foundation. Named in honor of her mother, the organization works with the non-profit Fierce Females to provide colon cancer screenings for women across South Florida.
Baez plans to wring comedic material out of the fatal medical condition in order to spur conversations around it.
“Women have very bad digestion,” Baez quips. “I talk about that [on stage] and every woman in the audience will be shaking her head [in agreement.]"
Colon cancer is a life-threatening disease that can be detected and treated early on. Baez feels that unfortunately, taking proactive measures around one's health isn’t the first thing women are worried about while they're preoccupied with the demands of maintaining a job, keeping up with costs, and raising a family.
“My mom, not knowing any better, and like most women ignoring [the symptoms for colon cancer] are taking care of everybody else and not themselves,” Baez says.
For her mother’s upcoming benefit, Baez has organized a showcase of comedians from her all-female production group, Funny in Pink. She originally set up Funny in Pink to provide female comics with a safe, fun environment to perform and refine their techniques in.
“I lost my mother years and years ago,” says Mary Smith, a close friend of Baez's who'll also be performing at the benefit. “It’s like being part of a club that no one wants to belong to.”
In addition to raising funds and sharing informing on the devastating illness, Baez wants to put on a show that will cater to what she dubs the “brunch crowd”, in other words, parties of people looking to have a good time after downing a mimosa or two.
Attendees can expect all the hallmarks of a holiday celebration, complete with an ugly sweater contest and a toy drive. There'll also be a portion of the show where Baez attempts to play matchmaker.
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“We have a lot of single women show up,” she says. “We’re going to try to find them a date for New Year's.”
Baez is making an effort to keep the benefit light and fun; it's scheduled to take place the day before what would have been her mother’s 55th birthday.
“I try to do everything in a celebratory environment,” Baez says. “We’re doing [the show] with a holiday theme so it’s going to be very festive, very airy. It’s not going to be sad.”
Funny in Pink Holiday Special. 3 p.m. Sunday, December 29, at Miami Improv Comedy Club & Dinner Theater, 3450 NW 83rd Ave., Suite 224, Doral; 305-441-8200; miamiimprov.com. Tickets cost $20 to 30 via miamiimprov.com.