The event: Anyone looking for a laugh Friday merely had to head for the Beverly Wilshire Hotel for “Cool Comedy, Hot Cuisine,” a benefit for the Scleroderma Research Foundation. With Bob Saget as host, comedians not only performed, but also appeared in abundance in the star-studded audience.
The program: Jeff Garlin and Jim Gaffigan provided the “cool comedy” from onstage, as Don Rickles added a few wisecracks from his table. John Mayer sang for the crowd.
As for the “hot cuisine,” celebrity chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken provided dinner, which began with falafel poppers, chicken saltimbocca and shrimp cocktails and continued with beet salad, heirloom tomatoes, bourbon and mustard glazed salmon and a delicate lemon rosemary cake.
Jimmy Kimmel joined Saget for the live action, and Queen Latifah assisted as well, encouraging bidders as she walked through the ballroom.
The crowd: Familiar faces abounded, and included Saget’s “Fuller House” co-stars John Stamos, Andrea Barber and Jodie Sweetin; Jack Black, Harry Lennix, Seth Green, Kevin Connolly, Kate Flannery, Alan Thicke, Ed Asner, Jill Whelan, Clare Grant, Ben Feldman, Brad Williams, Alex Meneses, Richard Benjamin, Paula Prentiss, Sabina Gadecki, champion swimmer Diana Nyad, Paramount chief executive Brad Grey, noted producer Mark Canton, “Entourage” creator Doug Ellin; board chair Luke Evnin and Actelion Pharmaceuticals VP Bob Smith.
The numbers: Tickets for the 520 guests began at $250 with tables ranging up to $25,000. Proceeds of more than $600,000 from ticket sales, additional contributions and auction sales are earmarked for research into finding the cause and cure for the autoimmune disease, which claimed the life of Saget’s sister.
Quote of note: In a cocktail hour conversation, Jonathan Mangum of “Let’s Make a Deal” spoke of the value of comedy, not just for fundraisers, but also in life. “I often get emails or letters from people who have watched the show from hospitals,” he said. “They say ‘we were having a hard time, but when we were able to watch the shows and laugh,’ it helped pull them through. It really is true that laughter is a great medicine and it makes perfect sense to use that to raise awareness and raise funding for this foundation.”
Ellen Olivier is the founder of Society News LA.