By Claire Stern
Updated May 01, 2016 @ 10:45 am
Brad Barket

Midtown Manhattan may be known for its breadth of stand-up comedy clubs, but last night, some of the most hilarious performers in the game descended on New York City Center for a very serious cause. SNL's Vanessa Bayer, Louis C.K., Jim Gaffigan, and Gilbert Gottfried brought the laughs to a crowd of 2,000-plus people—including Jim Carrey and Debbie Harry—to benefit the David Lynch Foundation, an organization that helps bring stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation to veterans with PTSD and women and children who are survivors of domestic violence.

"It's always great to have laughter—it's the best medicine," Bayer, wearing black jeans and a tuxedo-style blazer, told InStyle before the show. "That's a cheesy thing to say, but I truly believe it. Laughter can only help any situation, whether it's serious or not."

She certainly was on the mark. After her energetic bit, in which she reprised her SNL character Bar Mitzvah Boy and acted out an entire episode of Friends where she starred as Ross's love interest, the audience had no qualms with laughing their heads off—especially when she busted out her on-point impersonation of Rachel.

To keep the momentum going, Gottfried followed with a fast-paced set of old-timey jokes with a raunchy twist, and passed the torch to Gaffigan, who got the room roaring with story about how he wound up packing leftover donuts in his rollaway bag on a recent trip, and was subsequently strip-searched by TSA screeners. Closing it out with a bang, Louis C.K. delivered a half-hour of entirely new material, mostly on the topic of parenthood. "PTSD is a terrible trauma," said Joanna Plafsky, long-time teacher of TM and co-founder of the David Lunch MFA in Film Program. "Meditation really has an impact, and so does comedy."