On the Scene: Seth Rogen's Hilarity for Charity benefit

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Image Credit: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Alzheimer’s? The worst. Seth Rogen, wife Lauren Miller, and their crew of charity-loving comedians getting together for an Alzheimer’s research benefit? The best.

Miller’s own mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 55, which inspired Miller and her husband to find a way to educate more people about the disease. They created Hilarity for Charity to bring Alzheimer’s awareness to younger crowds, and, more concretely, to fund Alzheimer’s research and donate resources to families struggling with it. Though Hilarity for Charity has already hosted multiple events in Los Angeles, Monday night marked its first New York benefit. The event, held at the Jane Hotel, featured stand-up by Demetri Martin, Natasha Leggero, Hannibal Buress, and Aziz Ansari.

The theme of the evening was “this room is weird,” and indeed, it was. Couches and velvet chairs were spread throughout the main room, but not enough to seat the many attendees — most of who ended up sitting on the floor or standing along a staircase. “This is like a scene out of Sound of Music,” Rogen quipped, pointing at the packed stairs. Sadly though, the stair-dwellers did not bust into “So Long Farewell.”

Martin started the show by thanking his grandparents for being there — by which he meant the paintings flanking him, one of a nude woman and the other of a regally dressed man.What followed were a number of one-liners, ranging from how Martin’s apartment’s mouse is like a bad roommate (“Who sh– on the spoons? Who ate the corners of all my Doritos?”) to how a new cigarette design could stop people from smoking (“If you have a cigarette with two little balls hanging from it, it doesn’t look as cool as it used to.”).

Like Martin, Leggero, known for her roasting skills, also began by commenting on the environment: “I was very intimidated to be here tonight, but then I saw four people in Google Glasses,” Leggero said, taking a drag off an e-cigarette. “That took the edge off.” Later, after the sound of a glass breaking interrupted her set, she looked at the culprit and admitted, “I don’t care, I mean, this party needs some action.”

Buress, who plays lovable dentist Lincoln on Comedy Central’s Broad City, mostly gave his take on a number of not-so-appropriate topics, but even his G-rated jokes were a hit. “I give a lot of money to charity,” he started off his set. “Mostly for tax reasons. But still, it counts.”

Ansari, who’s working on a book about love in the technology age, confessed he’s been in a relationship for about nine months now and even shared some sample text messages between him and his boo: “‘You are the kindest, cutest, most wonderful man I’ve ever known.’ She sent that to me when I went away for five minutes to take a sh–. It’s like waste was leaving my body and love was coming in.” Aww.

The evening ended with Miller thanking the crowd for coming and a quick auction for VIP tickets to this week’s Saturday Night Livehosted by Rogen, and tickets for premium seats at Hilarity for Charity’s upcoming event in LA — which featured a collaboration between Rogen and the Backstreet Boys last year. The two items ended up selling for a combined $11,300.

To serve its mission of reaching a younger generation, Hilarity for Charity began HFC U, a program that helps college students put on their own Hilarity for Charity events on-campus. The school that raises the most money will win an advance screening of Rogen’s upcoming movie Neighborsas well as a meet and greet with Rogen himself. So far, over 150 colleges are participating and have raised $100,000 since January, Miller said.

The charity also found success when Rogen spoke about Alzheimer’s research before Congress in February. Video of his speech inevitably made the internet rounds. “It’s C-SPAN’s second-most watched video of all time!” Miller said proudly. And she should be proud — millions of easily distracted internet users watched a seven-minute video on Alzheimer’s education even without the promise of a stand-up show (or a Backstreet Boys performance). What this means? With Seth Rogen, anything (anything!) is possible.

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