Image: Arsene Dupin
John Landfort
Arsene Dupin
NBC News
updated 8/17/2011 4:41:21 PM ET 2011-08-17T20:41:21

Cause Celeb highlights a celebrity’s work on behalf of a specific cause. This week we speak with Arsene Dupin, world-renowned performer of magic, mime, juggling and comedy, about his work for the PRASAD Project. The Philanthropic Relief Altruistic Service and Development Project works to improve the quality of life of economically disadvantaged people around the world by providing HIV/AIDS services, disaster relief, dental care, eye care and other services. 

Dupin's talents have carried him across nearly every continent. He has entertained presidents, spiritual leaders, dignitaries, and of course, children. His next appearances will be throughout the day at the New York Renaissance Faire, weekends and Labor Day in August and September.

Interviewed by: Rich Dally III, NBC News

Q: Could you tell us a bit about your charity and what you are doing to help?

Dupin: That’s called the PRASAD Project, that’s P as in pizza, R like red, A like apple, S like snake, A like apple, and D like David.  It is a nonprofit organization that is committed to improving the quality of life of economically disadvantaged people around the world.  They have several programs, and some of the programs are based on supporting with dental care in many different parts of the world. They have dental care in New York, Mexico, India, and they also have eye camp programs in Australia, Mexico, France and Spain.  So it's health-oriented. That’s the charity I’ve been giving to.

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Q: What was it that made you want to get involved with this charity?

Dupin: My wife is a dentist, and so she knows the value of the care of the children. There are not that many programs around the world that would support free dental care for children and so that’s one of the main organizations that provide such care. In the state of New York they have a dental truck. It is hard to believe that upstate New York is actually very poor country.

And so some of the poorest country in America is upstate New York and so they have a free dental care program. They go around and check people for free and give them evaluations and things like that.

Q: What can a man of so many talents, such as yourself, learn from this kind of charity work?

Dupin: You know, the role of an artist is to give. I mean, in my book, the role of every human being is to share the heart and to share your gift.  When you come to realize that when you’re on stage and you are able to share with the people watching you, that is one form of sharing.

But when you realize that people can share on the bigger global aspect, and be able to get results, as in to ask for the compensation of what they give, it’s tremendous. It’s like being able to give freely just for the sake of giving and as such this organization is the perfect example of a giving nonprofit organization.

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Q: Do you think laughter really is the best medicine?

Dupin: Yeah, of course, there is no doubt. I think physically I don’t know if there is scientifically a study of how people react when they laugh but I’ve heard about several laughter therapies where people actually learn how to laugh, to really heal the body and heal the mind. 

As far as I remember my heroes were Laurel and Hardy and Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. I used to watch them all the time and I spent my youth laughing watching them, so I believe it is the best therapy you can think of. Let's not take away the Western medicine because their science is tremendous but laughter will be like the invisible medicine that changes maybe the DNA of the person who actually experiences laughter.

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