Laughter really is the best medicine

By David Rogers, Staff Writer

DOWNEY - Most comedians struggle to get an audience, but not Will Morton.

"I hope other comedians will copy what I'm doing," said Morton, who performed Saturday for more than 30 patients recovering from physical and neurological injuries at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey.

Morton's day job is in engineering. On weekends, he can be found with his comedy troupe, Million Laughs, at convalescent homes and hospitals.

Morton said his volunteer gigs help him practice his craft and try out new material.

At the county-run hospital, he talked about preachers in his native West Virginia, how a snake can be used as a "friend repellent" and performing an impression of Mr. T acting like Elvis Presley.

"I thought it was funny," said Jay Cramer, who was injured in a rock-climbing accident. "Humor is the best thing to help you get well."

Morton began Million Laughs a few years ago with other aspiring comedians studying at Cerritos College in Norwalk. The troupe also performs for private parties and corporate events.

Members perform regular gigs for cancer patients at City of Hope in Duarte and have recently sought chuckles at Park Regency Convalescent Home in La Habra and the Phoenix House drug treatment center in Santa Fe Springs.

"A lot of people are here to rehabilitate from spinal cord injuries, brain injuries and neurological injuries, and sometimes they're in pain, too," said therapist Christina Webster.

"Alleviating that, and bringing laughter to them" is something the comedians help with, she said.

Morton is always on the lookout for new talent: He shared the stage Saturday with Russ Binder, a Glendora engineer performing his first Million Laughs gig.

"I got a little scared at first," said Binder. "You've got to be able to entertain everybody, and this is part of everybody."

david.rogers@presstelegram.com
(562) 499-1246