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Laughing their way to a Goodfellows record

A Exchange Club tradition: women gathering very big checks from members. The club gave a record $150,000 to the Goodfellow Fund.
A Exchange Club tradition: women gathering very big checks from members. The club gave a record $150,000 to the Goodfellow Fund. Star-Telegram

On his first day at work, the new Fort Worth Club server dumped the lunch bread and butter in one diner’s lap, vacuumed around the tables between courses and gave another businessman an unexpected kiss.

When the server was nabbed pocketing silverware and police Chief Jeff Halstead burst in to handcuff him, civic leaders finally figured out it was part of the show for the 79th annual Exchange Club of Fort Worth charity holiday party.

With comedians from the Four Day Weekend troupe subbing for the waitstaff and then poking fun at new club members, the businessmen laughed through lunch and donated a record $150,000 for the Star-Telegram Goodfellow Fund.

Keeping the tradition of the club’s annual holiday party-turned-roast, “world’s worst waiter” David Wilk and three cohorts joked at the expense of about 100 civic leaders, cajoling them to “put some zeroes behind those numbers” for the annual children’s charity benefit.

Wilk overfilled tea glasses, dumped diners’ steaks into take-out sacks and generally confused the crowd before comedian-“manager” Troy Grant caught him with the silver and Halstead emerged to whisk him away.

That was only the start.

When new member Robert L. Ginsburg jokingly wrote a first check for $5, Four Day Weekend emcee David Ahearn read it aloud and said to laughs that it “lets them know right away how cheap you are.”

Later, Ginsburg’s gifts and others’ helped club host George Young Jr. raise a late $15,000-plus to more than break the 2011 record of $132,000.

No target was too big.

When Ahearn saw investor and Sundance Square principal partner Ed Bass hand his gift to one of three Kim Dawson Agency models gathering Goodfellow checks, Ahearn shouted, “Hey, Ed! God called. He needs you to co-sign for a loan.”

When Ahearn asked new member John Goff of Crescent Real Estate for his check, Goff said, “I gave it to a very pretty woman who walked by.”

Ahearn’s comeback, to loud laughter: “That’s the way most checks go, isn’t it?”

When new member David Porter blurted nervously that one of his favorite activities is “going to theater,” Ahearn demanded: “How come we’ve never seen you at our show?” (The group’s improv comedy theater is above Reata Restaurant.)

Four Day Weekend comedian Oliver Tull wrapped up the show as a blues musician singing the Exchange Club Blues.

“When you go [to Exchange Club], you gonna know what’s next,” he sang, “because when you sit down, you gotta write a big check.”

Former Mayor Mike Moncrief, the club president, said he likes the comedy group and recommended them to help boost party attendance and donations. Club members usually do their own scripts and skits.

“This was very much in our tradition,” he said. “We want to get together for fellowship, but also provide children with a Christmas.”

Former New York Yankees baseball player and American League president Bobby Brown, 90, has seen or participated in decades of the club’s party speeches, skits and stunts.

This year, Brown was wearing a big grin on his way out as he stopped to offer some baseball commentary.

“This was excellent,” he said.

“You can tell these are professional players.”

Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538

Twitter: @BudKennedy

Goodfellows needs you

The Exchange Club gift is welcome, but we need your donation, too, to reach the Goodfellow Fund’s $1 million goal. Please send a contribution to Goodfellows, P.O. Box 1870, Fort Worth, TX 76101. Credit card donations are accepted at a secure website, goodfellowfund.org. Your name will be published in coming weeks unless you ask us not to.

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