Jason Sudeikis and lifelong friend return for 3rd annual Thundergong

The star-studded variety show benefits the nonprofit Steps of Faith Foundation

Marc LaVoie
November 05, 2019 - 3:00 am
Jason Sudeikis addresses the audience at Thundergong

Courtesy Thundergong


Saturday Night Live alumnus Jason Sudeikis and a lot of his famous friends are in town this weekend for Thundergong, an annual variety show that benefits a charity that serves amputees.

The story of Thundergong and the Steps of Faith Foundation begins with a couple of teenagers in 1995. Jason Sudeikis, a recent graduate of Shawnee Mission West High School and Billy Brimblecom, a senior at Shawnee Mission North, were trying their hands at comedy.

"We met because we were both coming into Comedy Sportz, which was an improv comedy club," Billy said.

The funny and talented kids remained friends as Jason moved onto Chicago, then SNL, then a career in motion pictures.

Steps of Faith director Billy Brimblecom addresses the audience at Thundergong
Billy was a touring drummer in 2005 when he got a bad diagnosis. Cancer required doctors to amputate his left leg, three inches above the knee, and his insurance did not cover the entire cost of his prosthesis.

"I needed to come up with $30,000 back then," Billy said. "Jason was pretty new on SNL in 2006, and so he and some other friends from our improv comedy days created a fund raiser in Kansas City that raised a lot of money."

In 2013 Billy was a new father in Nashville looking for a new career that would allow him to spend less time on the road. He met the owner of the prosthetics company where he was a patient. The man told Billy he had started a 501c3 nonprofit a few years before, and was having trouble getting it off the ground. He offered Billy a job.

"In that moment it was like he tossed me the keys to a car with no engine in it, and said see what you can do with that," Billy said.

When you need to raise attention for a worth cause, it helps to have a hilarious close friend who happens to be a movie star. Billy called Jason.

"I said when the time is right for you, we should do an event," Billy said. "I'm the boss of this thing, and so you and I can do whatever we want to do, whatever makes sense for us."

That conversation resulted in Thundergong in 2017. This weekend, Billy and Jason are putting on their 3rd annual show at the Uptown Theater. There will be a lot of celebrities, including country recording artist Wynonna Judd and fellow SNL alumni Will Forte and Fred Armisen.

"Everybody's playing music," Billy said. "It's kind of like a variety show feel, and if Jason hosts it, and if he's saying something, nine times out of ten it's something funny because he's such a funny guy."

Today Billy feels thankful for a lot of things, including his hometown, his lifelong friend Jason and for the Steps of Faith Foundation. 

"It kind of checks all the boxes," Billy said. "It combines almost everything I've done in my life and care about. It's a beautiful thing. I feel really lucky that we get to do it."

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