While millions of young people marched for their lives with the goal of putting an end to gun violence yesterday, a handful of Hollywood heavyweights and comedy greats gathered at the Palladium on Sunday for another worthy cause: ending Alzheimer’s. It is now estimated to be the costliest disease in America.
There’s nothing funny about that, but Hilarity for Charity co-founders Seth Rogen and wife Lauren Miller promised that a lot of laughter was in store at their sixth annual Los Angeles Variety Show, which kicked off with a block-long cocktail party and food truck reception.
“It’s going to be dope,” said Craig Robinson, who was performing with his band, The Nasty Delicious, as part of the event. “Seth is doing sketches. Post Malone is going up. The Muppets. Me!” Added fellow participant Ike Barinholtz: “After I did ‘Neighbors’ with Seth, he told me about what it meant to him personally and to Lauren (whose mother suffers from the disease) and invited me to come down. You don’t look at it as, like, work or stressful stuff because you’re hanging out with your friends, you have a beer, you do a sketch or two, and then you can technically say you were helping people,” Barinholtz told Variety.
All coverage from inside is under wraps until Netflix airs the special in April, but Barinholtz was willing to offer a preview of his material. “It’s very tough to not throw a Trump joke out there at some point,” he said. “Come on! I can’t wait to watch ’60 Minutes’ tomorrow night. I’ve got my popcorn ready.”
For his part, host Rogen planned to avoid topical commentary. “It’s not highly political, honestly. We want everyone’s money to cure Alzheimer’s, so we tried not to,” he told Variety. “I mean, we just wanted to make it the funniest show possible, tried to make the format unique, and we’re trying to make Alzheimer’s something that is, like, fun to think about in some weird way because it is associated with this.”
The line-up of comics included Sarah Silverman, Tiffany Haddish and Michelle Wolf, who is scheduled to host the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. But when asked if the comedy world is becoming an increasingly inclusive place for women, Rogen demurred to his wife. “I mean, I just directed a movie for Netflix, so yes. I don’t think I’m rare these days,” she told Variety. “I think it’s an amazing thing that is happening and there are a lot of women who are fortunately getting a chance. We could have more, but it’s happening.”
Stand-up veteran Jon Lovitz, who shared that he first met Haddish when she was homeless and “didn’t want to tell anybody,” agreed that there is more diversity than ever before: “Yeah, I think it’s more open to people, but as a comedian, you’re not thinking about anything other than ‘Do they make me laugh?’ You don’t care who it is. What race, religion, gender, you know? It has nothing to do with it.”
Netflix streams the special, for the first time, on April 6.