Comedian organizes benefit for homeless shelter
Koran Dunbar's comedy benefit is next month. (Jason Minick/The Sentinel)

If laughing is therapy, Koran Dunbar aims to be a psychiatrist.

"There's so much negative stuff in the world," says the Greencastle 22-year-old, who is doing a benefit show in Chambersburg after breaking into the national comedy circuit.

Dunbar has performed on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," MTV, in films and at comedy clubs on the East Coast.

Next month the 2000 Greencastle-Antrim High School graduate will join four other comedians to put on a benefit show for the Franklin County Shelter for the Homeless.

Quevaughn Bryant, who has performed on HBO, ABC's "Politically Incorrect," Jenny Jones and Comedy Central, is the biggest name on the ticket.

Bryant helped Dunbar break into comedy when he offered him a spot at a comedy club Bryant owned in Hagerstown. Dunbar was 19 then, and after the first show Bryant gave him a show every Thursday night, Dunbar says.

The other comedians are Hans Scharler and Erik Myers. Scharler, a State College native, has been on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," Caroline's New York Comedy Club, Comedy Central and Def Comedy Jam.

Myers, of Baltimore County, has opened for comedians Harlan Williams and Jim Breuer, stars of the film "Half Baked." Brian Kidd of Greencastle is the opening act at the benefit show.

Adult, but not blue

The multimedia comedy show is aimed at adults, although Dunbar says it won't be raunchy.

"I've done shows for people in their 80s and made them laugh. I never want to tell people, this is only for the college crowd."

Telling jokes and stories is what Dunbar does best, and that's how he can help people, he says. "For a moment in time if you have problems, stress — you come to a show and it helps you forget."

Most of his material comes from everyday things people can relate to, such as current events and everyday frustrations like dealing with traffic, he says.

Watching a live show is better than watching it on TV, he stresses. For one, the audience can talk back. At "a comedy club, you can say, 'You're not funny.'"

"If you like Dave Chapelle, John Breuer, Conan O'Brien, basically you should come to the show," he says.

Helping the community is important to him. "I've been homeless before," he admits. He hopes the show brings attention to the fact that there are homeless people in the area.

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Challenging work

His decision to do comedy came with some challenges.

For one, the work, and therefore the pay, is not consistent. Dunbar spends a good deal of the summer on the road doing shows, but this time of year is "hit or miss," he admits.

"You have to also swing a full or part-time job." Dunbar sells wireless phones at a store in Hagerstown.

He has been taking communications classes at Penn State's Mont Alto campus to get an education in case the comedy circuit didn't work out.

"Obviously I'm doing this because the pros outweigh the cons thus far," he says.

One of those pros was having Conan O'Brien laugh at his jokes, he says. "Whenever he laughs at something you do or write, you can't explain" the feeling that results.

He and Scharler wrote a skit for O'Brien's show inventing a "Joel Godard fan club" to celebrate the wacky announcer.

Dunbar also played a bully and other parts in "Dumb and Dumberer," the sequel to the popular Jim Carrey comedy. "I'm in like five different scenes."

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