Bob Saget’s friends, family and former co-stars turned out for a cause close to the actor’s heart on Wednesday night in Beverly Hills. Jimmy Kimmel, John Mayer and Jeff Ross stepped in to host “Cool Comedy Hot Cuisine,” the Scleroderma Research Foundation’s fundraising event which was spearheaded by the Full House star for 30 years. Saget’s sister Gay died from scleroderma, a rare and often fatal disease, in 1994.
“These bookings have really improved vastly since Bob passed away,” Kimmel quipped on stage as he got the night started.
Regina Hall, Rosie O’Donnell, Kathy Griffin, Norman Lear, Lori Loughlin, John Stamos, Jodie Sweetin, Joel McHale, Kevin Nealon, Seth Green and Howie Mandel were among the famous guests in attendance. The event, which was co-chaired by Saget’s wife Kelly Rizzo, also served as a tribute to the beloved comedian. Rizzo and Saget’s daughters were together at the event.
“What’s so fun about tonight, the only thing that’s fun about it, is we get to show Bob we wanted to do this,” Kimmel continued, adding: “Everyone should have a friend like Bob Saget. Tonight’s a tribute but it’s also a celebration. … You didn’t really know Bob until you saw him host a Scleroderma Research dinner. That was the true Bob Saget.”
After dinner and a live auction, the comedy portion of the night featured standup sets by Nealon, Mandel and surprise guest Dave Chappelle. Saget and Chappelle were friends for decades, ever since the former’s surprising cameo in 1998’s Half-Baked. The memorable scene in the stoner comedy depicted Saget less as TV’s dad, and more the raunchy jokester those close to him knew well.
Chappelle took the stage after making sure everyone’s phones were locked away. He began by going through most of his current material, recounting when he was attacked four months ago at the Hollywood Bowl. The comic called out the New York Post for doing an interview with the man who knocked him to the ground. (Isaiah Lee told the paper he was “triggered” by the comedian’s jokes about the LGBTQ community and homelessness as he’s bisexual.) Chappelle got laughs from the famous crowd recalling how Chris Rock came out after the stunning moment and joked the assailant was Will Smith .
But it was the end of Chappelle’s set that was touching. The comedian played a “penultimate” message that Saget sent him months before the actor’s death. In the video, Saget congratulates Chappelle on “doing the impossible” with his accomplishments and calls him one of the “sweetest” and “most honest” people he’s ever met.
Chappelle said he received the message at a time when he really needed to hear those things, calling Saget “af***ing fantastic human being.” The comedian said it was clear Saget “is in this room tonight.”
“This night is important to him and I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Chappelle declared.
The evening concluded with a performance by Mayer, who was emotional throughout the event. He played a few of “Bob’s favorite songs,” beginning with “Who Says” — with a very special guitar.
Mayer told the audience that he was playing the guitar Saget used during his last show in Florida. Rizzo tracked it down, bought it and gifted it to Mayer. The singer said it’s one of his most prized possessions.
Saget was found dead in his Florida hotel room on Jan. 9. The actor was in the middle of a comedy tour and had performed a gig hours earlier. Saget’s cause of death was the result of blunt head trauma after he probably fell backwards alone in his hotel room. He was 65.
In one of his final interviews, Saget proudly talked about his work with the Scleroderma Research Foundation. “I’ve done over 30 years of benefits and we’ve raised over $50 million,” he shared. “It’s one of my life’s work.”
Scleroderma is a group of rare diseases that involve the hardening and tightening of the skin. It may also cause problems in the blood vessels, internal organs and digestive tract, according to the Mayo Clinic. There is no cure, but the Scleroderma Research Foundation is hoping to change that. Wednesday’s event raised over $1 million, something Saget would clearly be proud of.
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