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Weekly Webb: Comedian sees comedy as band-aid to fight cancer

June 16, 2016
Quincy Jones performs at the Red Door in Billings on Friday and Saturday, June 17 and 18. And, yes, he'll make you laugh with him about his cancer diagnosis.
Quincy Jones performs at the Red Door in Billings on Friday and Saturday, June 17 and 18. And, yes, he'll make you laugh with him about his cancer diagnosis.

Here’s what a great attitude Los Angeles comedian Quincy Jones has.

He could have buried his head when he was diagnosed in August 2015 with Stage 4 mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer. Doctors told him he had less than a year to live.

His pal, fellow comedian Nicole Blaine wanted to help Jones come up with a bucket list. At the time, Jones wondered “What do you do as a dying man when you’re already living your dream?”

Being a national touring comedian with friends in all corners of the U.S. was his dream. So what else?

There is that televised comedy special that Jones had never done that could take his brand of observational comedy to the next level.

So Jones and Blaine threw a Kickstarter proposal online in April to raise a modest $5,000 to do the filming. Two hours later, 1,200 donors had pledged $50,000.

And things got even better from there. Jones landed an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and she pointed her finger at the camera and gave a pitch, “Hey HBO, Netflix, you guys are watching this. Please do something for this guy.”

Two weeks later, Ellen brought Jones back on her show to give him the good news in front of her live audience. Yep, HBO was in. The comedy special aired on June 2.

Jones is continuing to tour the country and perform comedy, despite his battle with cancer.

Jones will perform in Billings on Friday and Saturday, June 17 and 18, at 8 p.m. at the Red Door Lounge. The shows will raise money for Relay for Life. A portion of the $20 ticket price and a portion of drink sales will go to the Relay for Life, which is Friday, July 8, at the West High track.

Jones said his chemotherapy treatments have broken him down physically and emotionally, but that allowed him to build himself back up, pushing him to be strong and continue touring no matter what.

Comedy keeps him going, Jones said in a telephone interview Tuesday from a tour stop in Portland, Ore.

“I love performing. I love the whole process of a joke, taking an idea, making a statement out of it, then whittling it down so it works the majority of the time,” Jones said.

Now 32, Jones first got on stage to perform comedy at 22 in his hometown Seattle. Comedy was a sideline for him until a bad breakup pushed him to try to find humor in the darkest hours.

“Laughter is a band-aid. I’m tired and there are days when I am exhausted, but I just keep going,” Jones said.

Jones plans to arrive in Billings on Thursday and wander around town to find additional material for his show. He will mention his fight with cancer during his stand-up show, but he does not let it define who he is as a person or a comedian.

“People who have cancer like to laugh, just like everybody else. I’m a different person than before the diagnosis because I appreciate all the little and big things. I just appreciate every day,” Jones said.

The name of his HBO special and his mantra as he approaches the one-year anniversary of his diagnosis is “Burning the Light.”

It is a reference to the light used by clubs to let the comedian know his time on stage is done.

“You are supposed to wrap it up,” Jones said. ”As a comedian, I decided to go past it.”

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