Seth Rogen and Lauren Miller Laugh to Cope with Alzheimer’s
Seth Rogen and his wife, Lauren Miller Rogen, launched their not-for-profit Alzheimer’s foundation, Hilarity for Charity, six years ago. The charity was launched to inspire change and raise awareness of Alzheimer’s and has raised more than $7.5 million (USD) since its launch. This money has been directed to help families struggling with Alzheimer’s care costs, increase support for groups nationwide and fund cutting edge research.
The couple host an annual star-studded comedy event to raise funds and this year’s was bigger than ever. Netflix is streaming the variety show, hosting sets from big names Alison Brie, Michael Che, Sacha Baron Cohen, James Corden, Tiffany Haddish, Nick Kroll, John Mulaney and Sarah Silverman. The Muppets and Post Malone also performed special sets on the night. This means that more people than ever are able to watch the show, creating a platform to raise more awareness than has been possible before.
Hilarity for Charity’s philosophy is based around accelerating progress in Alzheimer’s care, research and support, specifically through engagement from millennials. As Alzheimer’s is often viewed as a disease amongst the elderly, closing the gap of millennial understanding of the disease is incredibly important. According to the charity, approximately 250,000 children and young adults between the ages of 8 and 18 provide help to someone living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Hilarity for Charity also donates a percentage of revenue to cutting edge research, specifically focusing on younger onset dementia and detection of the disease.
According to the charity’s website, their main focus is providing care for people living with Alzheimer’s. They explain, “While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, there is care. The goal of our care grant program is to provide exceptional in-home care to families affected by this disease and to give these families support and rest.” At present, the charity has provided over 110,000 hours of respite care to Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers who are in need.
The charity also provides a wide variety of support and awareness initiatives. These include a unique Google hangout support group that focuses on the individual needs of people under the age of 40 who are working their way through the disease. The charity has released ‘This is Alzheimer’s’, a feature length film that documents what Alzheimer’s looks like through the eyes of three different families living with it.
When asked about why they started Hilarity for Charity, Seth Rogen explained, “It’s also all we know how to do. If we were chefs, this would be called ‘Baking for Charity’. It would arguably be a much better event.”
“We wanted to make (this TV special) the way we view pretty much everything: What would make us the most excited as viewers?” He said.
“There are a lot of Netflix comedy specials out there, so we just wanted to really try to make it unique and have a line-up that represents the people that we think are the funniest people.”
Lauren Miller Rogen’s mother was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s when she was just 55. In a heartfelt interview with the ABC, Miller explained, “If things had gone how my parents had planned, she probably would have started thinking about retiring from her lifelong profession of teaching around now. Perhaps they’d be planning a great trip, or a tour with some friends or family. They’d come out to California and visit me and Seth, or we’d all go somewhere fun together.”
“Of course, that’s not what’s happening. Instead, we’re doing our best, to quote Sheryl Sandberg: ‘kick the s— out of option B’. Which for us, is providing her with care from three wonderful caregivers while my dad is still right by her side every single day.”
Miller explained that when her mother was diagnosed, the stigma around the disease was incredibly high. She said, “People didn’t talk about it in the mainstream (way) that some other diseases are portrayed. And that’s because there’s a lot of fear around it.”
“I would say my mum’s sense of humour was something that stuck around for a long time,” she said.
“At this point, it’s been four to five years since my mum has been able to communicate at all and do anything for herself. She hasn’t talked or walked or cared for herself. She’s a shell of who she used to be, which is the brutal reality of this disease.”
“We will laugh to forget how sad this disease is. But, more importantly, we’ll laugh to remember that changing the destiny of this illness is up to us.”
This year’s show features a mix of sketches and stand-up sets, with heaps of L.A. based food trucks feeding the crowds and waiters circling during the show breaks with mixed drink trays. This year also marks Hilarity for Charity’s first opportunity to show the performances to such a large audience—the entire world.
Out of the comedians, Michael Che has revealed that his mother has Alzheimer’s. On stage during his set, Che jokes, “I tell her a really mean, racist joke. It brings her back to the ‘50s immediately.”
He follows with a joke about how New York bars will stay open until the early morning, saying, “Sometimes I drink so late, I see people my age bringing their kids to school. And we just look at each other like, ‘Boy, did you screw up your life’.”
Silverman follows the family theme with her jokes saying, “God, I’m really going to do it, you guys. I’m really going to have no kids. I love kids, [but] the only thing I love more than kids is doing anything I want at any time.”
Netflix is currently streaming Hilarity for Charity’s event and is accessible on the streaming service worldwide.