(Special to South Florida Times) – HOLLYWOOD — Doctors found a cancerous tumor in Shemar Dixon’s brain and when he was 7 years old they performed a successful operation to remove it.
The experience did not lessen the high-energy boy from trying to uplift those around him.
“He has such an outgoing personality,” said his sister, Shaunique Brown. “He likes to make people laugh and smile. He doesn’t like people to be sad. Same thing with his illness. It didn’t really change his personality. He was still upbeat and smiling all the time.”
Shemar did want one thing for himself: a chance to perform on stage as a comedian.
On Aug. 17, the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Shemar his wish and he made his debut as a stand-up comic at the Improv Comedy Club in the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood.
Dressed like a model in GQ magazine, the Fulford Elementary School student regaled the almost 300 people in the audience with his jokes, starting with the line that he was there only “to meet older girls.”
“I spent one month in the hospital,” the 9-year-old funnyman from North Miami Beach said during his act. “It was fun and it was scary. They gave me games and candy and they gave me homework. What a kid’s got to do to get out of homework?”
When Improv invited comics to help Make-A-Wish realize Shemar’s dream, local comedians Forest Shaw, Sisqo the Comedian, Gene Harding, John Wynn, Dougie Almeida, and Wendi Sterling signed up.
“It’s a cynical business, so it’s cool when you find someone who wants to do this,” said Wynn. “It was touching, for me at least, and I just felt like why not help this kid do something that he wants to do.”
The comedians said they came up with a few ideas which, to their surprise, weren’t needed because Shemar had his own pre-written material.
“We just helped him with stage presence, like holding the microphone, looking ahead, laughing and pausing, just technical stuff,” said Sisqo, who said he found the boy comic “unbelievable.”
As Shemar went through a routine that included Mama jokes, he was as natural as Dave Chapelle, Marvin Dixon, Kevin Hart, DL Hughley and Mike Epps, some of the biggest names in comedy who have performed on stage at the comedy club.
Shemar’s first wish, though, is to take over the job currently held by Barack Obama, host comedian Wendi Sterling said as she warmed up the audience. But it turns out there’s an age limit.
“I found it weird that a kid would want to be a comedian,” she joked. “But Shemar and I bonded. We both have no real jobs and live at home with our moms.”
For now, Shemar is happy being a comedian. After the show, he sat in the lobby having his picture taken and, yes, signing autographs, like a seasoned professional. Onlookers would never have known the radiation and chemotherapy ordeal he endured and that he is not only a comic but also a fighter.
“I am grateful for the awesome job that the foundation did,” said his mother, Winsome Smith. “It was more than I expected.”
Since its inception in 1983, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida has made more than 8,000 wishes come true for children who have life-threatening diseases. The cost for each wish is almost $5,000, which the nonprofit organization pays from corporate sponsorship, special events, grants and individual contributions.
“Nights like tonight personify exactly who we are and what we do,” said Norman Wedderburn, president of the local foundation chapter. “The ability to do a wish like this is just amazing and we have been fortunate to grant over 8,000 wishes to children in our community, many of whom go on to live full adult lives.”
• For more information on the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida, to donate or refer a child, call 888-
773-9474 or visit www.sflawish.org.
Tracy-Ann Taylor may be reached at Tayltra9@aol.com.
Photo: Photo courtesy of Stu Opperman/Impact Players
Family Support: Shemar Dixon front, gets support from family members during his Make-A-Wish apperance at the Improv Comedy Club on Aug. 17.