There are few better ways to raise money and awareness than with tons of laughs — a fact the Scleroderma Research Foundation clearly knows.
The foundation held its flagship Cool Comedy, Hot Cuisine fundraiser at the Beverly Wilshire in L.A. on Friday night, hosted by Bob Saget, who is a member of the foundation’s board and whose sister died of the disease in 1994. For the “Hot Cuisine” part of the title, “Top Chef Masters'" Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken provided the food, with Jimmy Kimmel, Jeff Garlin and Jim Gaffigan on hand for comedy performances.
A rare disease with no cure currently, Saget took some time before the event to talk about why awareness of Scleroderma is so important, and why it was so low at one time.
“You can see what it is, because people have it,” he said. “It affects their skin, there’s too much collagen in their bodies. 80% of its victims are women in their prime of their lives. Maybe that’s the reason, for so many years, it went unnoticed. My friend [Scleroderma Research Foundation founder] Sharon Monsky believed that.”
The Cool Comedy, Hot Cuisine event has gone on since 1988, and Kimmel, who hosted the auction with Saget, was quick to point out that everyone was having a good time — maybe a little too good.
“How did everyone get so drunk so quickly?” he asked. “I mean, we’ve only been here for like an hour and 45 minutes.”
“They’re really having fun!” Saget responded. “Everyone has been telling me they’re really having a great time.”
“Well, I’ve been telling people to go over and tell Bob you’re having a really good time,” Kimmel joked.
Kimmel also took a moment to slam the title of the event. On stage, he asked who came up with the name. When Saget told him it was Feniger, Kimmel replied, “Oh, that’s a terrible title, Susan. It’s a bad title, I’m sorry.”
A clear highlight of the evening was an appearance by Don Rickles, who said a few words from his seat at his table.
Sitting next to Gaffigan, Rickles said, “And now I look around at this crowd and realize, as I sit next to this man who I love and adore, that I’m the biggest name here!”
He ended his speech by telling the audience to “enjoy your life, enjoy your girlfriend, enjoy your life,” eliciting a standing ovation from the audience.
Following him was Garlin with his standup bit — and the comedian, who was celebrating his birthday that night, understood the pressures of following Rickles.
“By the way, to perform in front of Don Rickles, it’s not nerve-wrecking. It’s enjoyable,” said Garlin, tongue clearly in cheek. “I am enjoying myself. I hope I perform in front of Don Rickles every night of my life!”
Gaffigan also gave a stand-up performance and, unsurprisingly for the comedian, focused largely on the cuisine of the evening.
“The main course was fish and it was good! That’s amazing,” he said. “Those are the miracles we’re looking for. I mean, because, in general, let’s be honest: Fish is disgusting. When you go out to dinner, maybe it’s just me – maybe I’m normal – when I go out to dinner, I’m never like, ‘Instead of getting a delicious steak, I’ll get the fish, because I like disgusting food.’ I never do that, because fish is disgusting.”
Also in attendance were Saget’s “Full House” co-stars John Stamos, Jodie Sweetin and Andrea Barber, all of whom will be in Netflix’s upcoming sequel series “Fuller House,” so the show was clearly a buzzy topic for the evening.
Though Saget, who has lined up a guest-starring role in the show, said he hasn’t seen a script yet, he revealed some of his hopes for the Tanner family’s patriarch, Danny.
“I think he’s gone through some mental health,” Saget said. “He knows what’s going on. I think he’s fine. I think he’s a different person. He’s not going to be dust-busting or Windexing.”
Though most of the old “Full House” co-stars have signed on to the sequel, when asked if there’s any non-“Full House” veterans who he would like to see on the show, Saget didn’t miss a beat before answering Ben Kingsley.
As for Barber, who will play a big role in reprising her part as Kimmy Gibbler, she has a different guest star in mind.
“I really want New Kids on the Block on the show,” she said. “I’m lobbying hard for that. Any New Kid on the Block, preferably all five. That’d be great if they could come on and sing a little ‘Step by Step.'”
John Mayer ended the night by performing four of his biggest songs. Also showing their support at the event were Queen Latifah, who won the auction for the trip to the Bahamas and whose mother has Sclerodermam, Jack Black and Kevin Connolly.