HOLLYWOOD — After four years of hosting the annual Project ALS benefit gala, Ben Stiller finally got to sit through the charity dinner Friday night.
In a similar fashion to a Friars roast, Garry Shandling, Luke Wilson, Jack Black, Amanda Peet, Marisa Tomei and comedian Jeffrey Ross were among those who saluted, and joshed, Stiller, who received the inaugural Jenifer Estess award for his support and advocacy of Project ALS. Estess died of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2003.
“Ben has always been known as a charitable guy. How else do you explain the repeated hirings of Janeane Garofalo?,” Ross joked before presenting Stiller with the faux kudo for being “the best-looking Jew in showbiz.”
“I had no idea it was going to be this kind of evening,” Stiller said. “Hosting the ALS benefit gala has been a little subcareer of mine for quite a few years, and let me tell you that I have always secretly cursed Jenifer Estess for it.
“She would say, ‘Go up there and have fun, keep it light, be funny.’ And I’d say, ‘But Jen, first of all I am not a host, I am not a standup comedian and it’s an incredible, fatal disease. How can you be funny in between these gut-wrenching speeches about ALS?’
“So here I am tonight, free of all hosting responsibilities finally, and guess what? This is even more stressful.”