When Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin insisted on giving an intimate mini-concert while dinner was being served, the Women’s Cancer Research Fund’s “An Unforgettable Evening” benefit started to become just that, unforgettable.
Whether it was Tom Hanks improvising after a video broke down, Martin serenading the guests during dinner, or Jason Derulo lighting up the venue to close out proceedings, “An Unforgettable Evening” — held in the grand ballroom of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Thursday night — had its fair share of memorable moments.
The guest list at the 13th annual fundraising dinner included WCRF honorary co-chairs Hanks and wife Rita Wilson, five of the WCRF founders, and a smattering of models and entertainers.
Tig Notaro, the emcee for the night, began her opening monologue by admitting that cancer, and specifically breast cancer, is not an easy disease to make jokes about, but that she would do her best — through her dry humor and deadpan delivery — to demonstrate the absurdity and seriousness of the disease by laughing at it. Notaro shared her story of being diagnosed with invasive bilateral breast cancer in 2012.
“I ended up having a double mastectomy, and before my surgery, as funny as it may sound, I did have small boobs. And I made so many jokes over the years about how small my boobs were that I started to think that maybe they overheard me and were just like, ‘You know what, I’m sick of this, let’s kill her,’” Notaro quipped to rapturous laughter in the room.
Moments later, a promotional video demonstrating the work of the Women’s Cancer Research Fund and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, narrated by Hanks himself, broke down to audible frustration in the audience. However, cometh the hour, cometh the Hanks, as the celebrated actor rescued the situation by leaping out of his seat, cracking some jokes, and corralling everyone to sing together.
“It’s so gorgeous that voice,” Hanks joked as soon as the video footage malfunctioned.
After Martin had finished playing a medley of songs, including a tribute to David Bowie with an intimate “Life on Mars” rendition, “Nocturnal Animals” director and fashion designer Tom Ford took to the stage to accept the courage award.
“Your support of some of the most forward-looking medical minds on the earth is allowing so many women, mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, and friends to be the best version of themselves,” Ford said. “And not only the best version of themselves, but simply to be, to live, to breathe, to love, and ultimately to bring their gift and their grace to a world that desperately needs it right now.”