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Dallas Labor Day showbiz telethon aspires to Jerry Lewis greatness

Dallas Labor Day showbiz telethon aspires to Jerry Lewis greatness

Paul Varghese
Lineup will include comedian Paul Varghese. Paul Varghese/Facebook

Insomniacs and TV-bingers will have some Dallas fodder for their Labor Day weekend viewing pleasure, with an old-school Jerry Lewis-style telethon that's raising funds to fight cancer.

Called "Who Needs Sleep," the telethon mixes live music, comedy performances, game shows, celebrity and athlete interviews, and in-studio surprises.

Viewers are encouraged to pledge money through online donations as well as bidding on auction items from the worlds of sports, entertainment, fashion, and dining.

According to a release, the telethon will be broadcast from a studio in Dallas, and will stream online. It begins at 8 am on September 1, and ends at 8 pm on September 2. The live stream is available at www.whoneedssleep.org.

This is the second year for the telethon, and it's raising funds for two groups: Cancer Support Community North Texas, and the lymphoma and neuroblastoma wards of Cook Children’s Hospital of Dallas.

Founder Devin Pike, who is known for his involvement in pop and geek culture events like film festivals and Comic Con gatherings, will serve as director and host.

His inspiration is the longtime annual Labor Day muscular dystrophy telethon hosted by Jerry Lewis, which stopped broadcasting in 2015.

"A charity telethon, held on Labor Day Weekend, is a time-honored tradition that I have long wanted to be a part of," Pike says. "I'd prefer for people to open their hearts and wallets without bribery, but I'm more than willing to assemble a world-class show to prime the pump. Both of these organizations need every dollar we can raise, and we're here to support them as long as we're able."

The musical lineup includes performances from Bad Karma, Not Ur Girlfrienz, Grace Descending, Alexander & Annalisa Webb, Sean Cole, and Able Delilahs. Comedy acts will include Language of Laughter, a charity comedy collective from Denton, and movie legend Joe Bob Briggs.

Streamers are also encouraged to keep an eye out for local celebrities of the likes of Texas Rangers field reporter Emily Jones McCoy, comedian Paul Varghese, radio personality Jasmine Sadry, and Dallas Film Society creative director James Faust.

Online auction items range from tickets to a Chicago performance of Hamilton to autographed Star Wars memorabilia. Moreover, business and corporations have the ability to sponsor segments or studio spaces for the telethon.

Pike has a personal stake: He's a two-time survivor of throat cancer, who organized the inaugural telethon less than a month after his final cancer treatment session in December 2017.