For all those focused on Mother’s Day and sharing your love for the most special woman of all, this is a reminder of what is next on the docket. It is a budding charity that has taken Europe by storm and is sure to be a huge following in the United States, and it is called Red Nose Day. Consider it as the American Idol of charity, if it only lasted one day. Red Nose Day USA can now build a friendly rivalry charity competition between the United Kingdom and the United States as to which country is more giving to impoverished people worldwide. The specter of competition usually brings out the best in America, and it is for a great cause.
Started in 1985 through Comic Relief, the annual telethon has raised over 1 Billion pounds since its inception. The goal is to raise money for people who live in poverty throughout the world. The concept was started by famous film director Richard Curtis (Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually) after he traveled to Africa in 1985 and learned about the ravages of famine first-hand. Ever since, he has worked with members of the entertainment industry and celebrities to create shows, comedy, and fundraising activities throughout the United Kingdom for the Red Nose Fund.
Now the concept is migrating over to the United States for the first time, like the American Idol singing competition made it “across the pond” back in 2002, an adaptation of the United Kingdom’s hit show Pop Idol. It seems like America is ready for the friendly Red Nose Day charity competition. Can the U.S. raise as much as the United Kingdom did last year, over $157 million? The Euro version has had the help of mega-celebs like Paul McCartney, Elton John, Gwyneth Paltrow and Simon Cowell. These stars perform comedy routines, have fun and generate interest in the day-long television event, which gains up to a 40 percent share, year after year. Feats of strength like running, rowing, and climbing mountains are also commonly a part of the events of Red Nose Day.
For Red Nose Day USA, Walgreens is selling red noses for $1 throughout their thousands of stores nationwide to raise funds for the relief effort. They will continue to sell them throughout the month of May. TV personality Nick Cannon has pledged to attempt an ambitious feat of dancing for 24 hours straight, reminiscent of the old dance contest from the pre-WWII era. I think the last few hours will be brutal on camera, but compelling. Matt Lauer of NBC’s morning show Today will ride a bike from Boston to New York City, a 230-mile trip. Lauer trains on a bike for three hours a day, three days a week, for this upcoming journey to raise money for charity.
NBC will host a special three-hour TV even for Red Nose Day during prime time, with some of Hollywood’s finest scheduled to attend. Christina Aguilera, Jack Black, Will Ferrell, John Legend, and many others will be performing.
Considering the fact that the United States is much larger than the U.K. is in population, at about five times the size, raising $157 million to match last year’s U.K. take should be a bare minimum. The people of the United States have a long, impressive history of giving to charities during immediate natural disasters as well as throughout the year, in general. From the old Jerry Lewis Telethons to the American Red Cross and United Way, the act of giving has always been very much a part of American culture, and Red Nose Day should be no different. It should highlight one of the strengths of the American people.
Couched as a competition between the two countries, to either match or exceed each other in real-time or beat previous totals, it should make for compelling television. Americans love a little friendly international competition, and turning charity giving into a televised event in the U.S. should do amazing things for Red Nose Day. Look to get a Red Nose on May 21st, and add a little bit to end poverty.
Opinion By Evander Smart