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Steve Kelley bringing humor back to the Big Easy

This is one of the better write-ups about the adventures of Steve Kelley, editorial cartoonist for the Times-Picayune of New Orleans. He talks about Katrina and his use of stand up comedy, cartooning to help people laugh again.

He also does standup comedy, having appeared on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” several times, as well as corporate speaking engagements. He started 1,000 Laughs for 1,000 Smiles, an annual charity event in San Diego to raise money for the Thousand Smiles Foundation, which finances reconstructive dental surgery for children in Mexico. In fact, Kelley was in San Diego for that show in August when Katrina was bearing down on New Orleans.

He couldn’t get a flight back to New Orleans, so he was stuck in San Diego — if you can call that stuck — for more than a month. He continued to draw his cartoons, based on television coverage of the hurricane, phone conversations — when he could get through — with friends and colleagues in New Orleans, and his knowledge of the city.

When he finally got home, he found a scene that had to be seen to be believed. “You can’t appreciate the scope of it,” he said. “I had no idea that in front of virtually every house in the affected area sat a refrigerator. When you drive down a street and see refrigerators lined up everywhere, that’s the kind of incongruity that gives rise to all sorts of humor possibilities.”

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