Last week, Punchline Magazine posted a news post on about a comedy fundraiser that was held in Seattle for Amanda Knox, the 22-year-old American college student convicted in Italy of murdering her British roommate. Due to the outcry of fairness, decency, guilt and innocence that this conversation inspired, we decided to contact Renee Perrault, the comedian who organized the event. Here’s what Perrault had to say about the fundraiser, the Knoxes, and the controversy surrounding the court case and guilty verdict.
What prompted you to organize a comedy event, in specific, on Amanda Knox’s behalf?
I have been doing stand-up comedy for three years. I’m in a comedy group and we have done fundraising for Gilda’s Club, Susan B. Komen, breast cancer, MS and Rise N’ Shine for AIDS. A comedy event is something I know how to do and have had success with. We have been criticized for doing a comedy show and people actually suggested or blogged that we were going to make fun of Meredith Kercher and her family. That couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Our intent was to entertain, we did not make jokes about Italy, or any mention of the trial or the Kercher family. The Kercher family has our deepest sympathies. We were just raising money for a cause we believe in.
What did you hope to accomplish with it? Do you feel you met your goals?
My goal was to help the Knox family and raise money for Amanda’s Defense Fund. Yes, that goal was met. We brought people together, entertained them and raised money.
I read online that you’re a friend of the Knoxes. How long have you been acquainted with them? Did they ask you to do this, or did you come up with the idea?
I worked with Curt at Macy’s in the 1980’s when we were still known as The Bon Marche. In those days, before mergers and downsizing, we actually had time for coffee breaks and lunch. There was a group of us that did just that– coffee and lunches; we were work friends. There are people in your life that come and go, sometimes you don’t see them for years but when you do, the friendship is still there. I hadn’t seen Curt in a few years but had followed the trial. It was so hard to watch all of the negative publicity and when the verdict was announced it was just devastating to hear. I approached the Knox family with the idea of a fundraiser. As I said, comedy is what I do now….I really couldn’t think of a better way to raise money. I have gotten to know quite a few local northwest comics and every single one that I approached immediately wanted to be part of the show. The other comics in the show included Xung Lam, John Gardner, Geoff Lott and Billy Wayne Davis.
Given the notoriety of the situation, could you tell me something about the Knox family and Amanda that the public might not know?
After months of watching the TV and newspaper coverage I have come to realize that the Knox family is incredibly brave and have put everything on the line to help their daughter, granddaughter, sister, niece, cousin. The entire family, and remember, Amanda’s parents are divorced, have all come together. There is also another layer of “step” family that is working just as hard. We’re always hearing about dysfunctional families, this family has come together and is an example of what a “modern” family is made up of. I don’t know Amanda but have come to know her through the emails her family send to supporters, detailing their visits with her. I think she has demonstrated bravery under constant criticism.
What do you have to say to those out there who believe that Amanda is guilty and received a fair trial?
People are always going to have their opinions. There has been so much in the media: some right, some wrong and some just total sensationalism. Then there are the crazy bloggers who contribute, anonymously of course, all sorts of wrong facts to add fuel to the fire. My opinion is that the evidence presented at the trial was circumstantial at best. If I [say]say all the things that I believe were wrong with the trial, it will release a shit-storm of blogging from the crazy people. I will just say, I have followed the case, and I am convinced, along with many many other people, that Amanda and Raffaele are innocent and the true murderer has been convicted. I believe the next trial will refute whatever findings are presented by the jury.