Saturday Night Live star Chris Redd is weathering his New York City quarantine pretty well, all things considering. For one thing, as he told Conan O’Brien on Wednesday’s Conan, he got his SNL driver to help him map out a way to safely take the two of them out of the teeming, one-bedroom, coronavirus hotspot after a few stifling months, so he could kick it with his parents in the relatively spacious confines of their Mississippi home. (The sort of place where, unlike his typically cramped New York apartment, you can just walk from room to room without a plan.) Other than that, the SNL and Popstar scene-stealer has been filling his usually much busier days playing lots of Call Of Duty online (kids have the darnedest post-kill catchphrases), warily distance-dating (eligible bachelor and “ninja with the quarantine” Redd will scope out if you’ve been breaking social distancing), running through all the porn (like, all of it), and, oh yeah, becoming an almost accidental Black Lives Matter protest philanthropist.
Telling Conan that, like so many people stuck inside, he watched the unprecedented number of Americans taking to the streets in support of racial justice and against police violence with thwarted desire to join in. Citing his family’s vulnerability to the coronavirus as the reason why he wasn’t out there as well, Redd told O’Brien that his “Somebody ought to do something” energy upon watching protesters against police violence get routinely and brutally beaten by those same police found him actually moved to do something. That in the form of an immediately—and alarmingly—successful protest relief fund. Explaining how his well-intentioned but under-planned fundraising effort to pay medical bills, bail, and for the occasional iPhone smashed by police (for filming them smashing protesters in the face) raised $80 thousand in the first few hours, Redd told O’Brien he suddenly felt a little bit in over his head.
“I had all this money and no knowledge,” confessed Redd about his ass-backward foray into the world of GoFundMe, with Conan likening his position to Walter White’s unanticipated, under-house cache of cash that had to be put to good use, fast. You know, but not for evil. After a crash course in fundraising, allocation, networking, and the difference between non-profits and mutual relief funds (his COVID-19 Protest Relief Fund is the latter), Redd eventually found himself briefly sitting on over $360 thousand, which he dutifully and relievedly has been distributing to worthy and necessary groups like The Chicago Alliance and Black Lives Matter Chicago. The comic in him toyed momentarily with tweeting out the joke that he’d bought himself a really cool chain with it instead, but he perhaps wisely refrained. Having heard from many people whose “front line” activism has put them into dire medical and financial straits and who have been helped out by his efforts, Redd said he was gratified that his impulse to use his fame for something worthwhile has made some people’s lives a little bit easier. That, even though as he told Conan, “I’m just a comic, man. I wanna tell dick jokes.” Someday, buddy, someday.
Chris Redd’s COVID-19 Protest Relief Fund is still up and running strong. And if you’re looking for other ways to advocate for black lives, check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.