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Cans for Comedy uses laughs to raise supplies for the homeless

In exchange for a free show, the audience is encouraged to bring canned food or clothing donations for Homeless Helping Homeless.
Erik Maryanski, left, is the CFO of Homeless Helping Homeless which aims to find permanent housing for the homeless. He was taking in the night's haul from a Tampa comedy show. To the right is Ace Williams, who organized Cans for Comedy, a weekly open-mic comedy night that asks audiences to bring donations.
Erik Maryanski, left, is the CFO of Homeless Helping Homeless which aims to find permanent housing for the homeless. He was taking in the night's haul from a Tampa comedy show. To the right is Ace Williams, who organized Cans for Comedy, a weekly open-mic comedy night that asks audiences to bring donations. [ Ace Williams ]
Published Mar. 25|Updated Mar. 29

Homelessness isn’t funny, but a standup comedy series in a West Tampa brew pub uses comics to raise money and resources for a local homeless advocacy group.

Every Wednesday at the Bay Cannon Beer Company in Tampa, organizers bring in a headliner — such as the recent visit by Philadelphia comic Steve Netta — followed by an open mic night of several local comedians.

In exchange for the free show, the audience is encouraged to bring canned food or clothing donations for Homeless Helping Homeless, which has seen donations rise thanks to the comics, said organizer Ace Williams. The organization provides emergency, temporary and permanent housing solutions for the Tampa Bay area’s in-need population.

“My goal is to expand this project to other open mics, then to other cities and to possibly host our own comedy festival of major acts and many statewide comics that will continue to support this worthwhile charity,” said Williams, who is the producer of the show and also a comic.

He started Cans for Comedy in February at the brew pub when the Bay Cannon Beer Company manager was looking for a midweek comedy show.

“I know it’s a good way for comics to develop their acts, but I wanted to make it more special,” Williams said.

It has since collected hundreds of pounds of food, clothing and monetary donations, which can be made at homelesshh.org.

If you go

Cans for Comedy, a weekly open mic night for comics that encourages donations for Homeless Helping Homeless. 7-9 p.m. every Wednesday. Bay Cannon Beer Company, 2106 W Main St., Tampa. The show is free, but audiences are encouraged to bring canned food or clothing donations for homelesshh.org.

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