For five years, funnyman Seth Rogen and his wife, actress Lauren Miller, have been tirelessly raising money for Alzheimer’s research and care through their organization, Hilarity for Charity. It’s a cause that’s close to their heart, as just a few years into their relationship, Lauren’s mom, Adele, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s.
Suffice it to say, the Rogens have hit upon a uniquely entertaining way to raise awareness about the troubling disease, and they have enlisted Hollywood’s finest to help create change. During Hilarity for Charity’s “James Franco’s Bar Mitzvah” last year, a performance by Miley Cyrus prompted a mosh pit, and 2014’s prom night theme included a set from comedian Sarah Silverman that was so dark yet blisteringly funny, it divided the crowd.
Saturday night’s Halloween-themed event at the Hollywood Palladium continued the trend. Once again billed as a variety show, the Rogens were joined by a diverse group of performers, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, singers Courtney Love and Nick Petricca from Walk the Moon, comedians Marc Maron, Morgan Murphy, and Jen Kirkman, and the Doggfather himself, Snoop Dogg. Even as the shows have become as memorable for their fundraising tallies as they are for their performances, the Rogens still feel pressure to top themselves each year.
“Yeah, we kind of do [feel that pressure to top ourselves], which is unfortunate because it’s getting harder and harder to do that,” Seth told Yahoo Celebrity. “Once you have Miley Cyrus dressed as a giant Jewish star, it’s hard. What do you do? What you do is you force everyone to dress up like idiots. That’s the only other thing to do. Our talent has dressed up stupid, so now the participants have to.” Hence, this year’s Halloween theme.
But that didn’t mean the evening’s laughs at “Seth Rogen’s Halloween” were going to come from the costumes. As Seth (who wore eight costumes over the course of the night) shared, “We have great people performing. Marc Maron is performing, Snoop Dogg is performing, we have some amazing performers. The talent, I think, we try every year to get people we would be excited to see, more than anything.”
Many of the celebs who came out to show their support have personal experience with Alzheimer’s. Switched at Birth actor Michael Galante’s grandfather passed away from the disease, prompting Galante’s advocacy and his participation in last year’s event. “There hasn’t been enough money or awareness to find a cure,” he said. “Last year, we raised $2.5 million in one night!” Faking It actress Katie Stevens, who dressed as Mary Poppins, echoed Galante’s sentiments. After losing her grandmother to Alzheimer’s after a seven-year battle with the disease, Stevens was inspired to join the Hilarity for Charity planning committee. “It breaks my heart to know it’s the fastest, most rapid disease to hit, and there’s no prevention, there’s no slowing it down, and there’s no cure,” she said.
For Big Bang Theory star Kunal Nayyar, participating in the event was a way to honor a tradition that was started within the cast of his show. “We started going to an event about seven years ago — a big Alzheimer’s benefit that we would always do a big musical number at every year that was run by [television executive] Peter Grad,” Nayyar explained. “And when Peter Grad passed away last year, we promised we would take all the support we had and all the energy we had, and support Seth’s event now.” Actress Katie Lowes of Scandal and actor Adam Shapiro from Now You See Me 2 — dressed as characters from Mr. Robot — attended in honor of Lowes’s grandfather, who passed away from the disease. “We’re walking for Alzheimer’s on Nov. 10, and I’m speaking at the opening ceremonies there, so we try to do what we can whenever possible,” Lowes said.
And pro-skateboarder Tony Hawk, whose mom has been fighting Alzheimer’s for 10 years, attended to raise awareness for not only those battling the disease, but also for the people helping them to battle it. “It’s so painful for the family,” he said. “I mean, obviously it’s unimaginably difficult for the person that’s affected by it, but for the family, they see the people they love slip away. It’s just painful, it’s torturous, it feels endless, and any support is helpful.”
Despite the seriousness of the disease, the Rogens always set out to get the crowd to laugh. And from the moment the show began, it was evident guests were in for an off-the-wall, entertaining, and unforgettable evening. But there were three moments that really stood out in the show:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and wife Tasha McCauley’s duet
One of the evening’s standout moments came when Gordon-Levitt, dressed in a white cowboy hat and suit splattered with blood, took to the stage with his wife, scientist and businesswoman Tasha McCauley, who was dressed in a matching white frock, also splattered with blood.
“This is a traditional murder ballad from the Civil War times in the Appalachian Mountains,” Gordon-Levitt announced as he tuned up his guitar. “It’s called, ‘Dear Kate.’” The two then broke into a perfectly harmonized, classical old-school country twang song about exactly what was promised –murder. The two later danced along with the rest of the crowd when Petricca performed his band’s signature tune, “Shut Up and Dance.”
Marc Maron gets real about the election (and shuts down a heckler)
After Love performed a rendition of the classic Rocky Horror Picture Show song “Time Warp,” which got everyone dancing, Maron took to the stage to share his thoughts about Los Angeles (“It’s shady — there’s no seasons. One day you wake up and look at your watch and say, holy s***, it’s been 12 years!”), before getting real about the current political climate. He encouraged everyone to vote, and didn’t necessarily tell people how to vote, but he did share his thoughts about any disgruntled Bernie Sanders holdouts.
“If there are any Bernie supporters who don’t want to vote for Hillary, you should be forced to blow Trump,” he stated, as the audience burst into applause. “And it should be part of the inauguration.”
When a heckler decided to interject during Maron’s set, he handled it with ease: “I understand why people support Trump. You had a bad childhood and a s***ty understanding of what a father should be.”
Snoop Dogg auctions off a blunt
Of course, the high point of the night — pun semi-intended — came when Snoop Dogg closed out the evening with a medley of his hits. Though he came to the stage with blunt in hand, he handed it off to a lucky audience member. Seth promptly remedied the situation by bringing Snoop another … after taking a hit himself, of course. But Snoop wasn’t done giving away blunts.
“This is a charity event, so I’m going to raffle off one of these blunts that I hand-rolled myself,” he told the audience before leading his own unique auction. “I got $500 from Mary Poppins … and $1,000 from this witch right here, son!”
The witch was the winner, and Snoop was so impressed, he called for her to join him onstage. “Bring the Wicked Witch up here,” he insisted. “Goddamn, it’s motherf***ing Halloween!”
The two danced while he performed “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” and then Snoop brought the festivities to an end with Rogen, who once again shared a heartfelt thanks for everyone’s participation in the event.
Hilarity for Charity raised $1.6 million over the course of the evening, bringing the organization’s total funds raised to over $6 million for various Alzheimer’s-related support programs. We can’t wait to see what Seth and Lauren come up with next year.