Bob Saget’s friends, family and former co-stars came 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 led by the Full room star for 30 years. Saget’s sister Gay died in 1994 of scleroderma, a rare and often fatal disease.
“These bookings have improved a lot since Bob passed away,” Kimmel joked onstage as he kicked off the evening.
Famous guests included Regina Hall, Rosie O’Donnell, Kathy Griffin, Norman Lear, Lori Loughlin, John Stamos, Jodie Sweetin, Joel McHale, Kevin Nealon, Seth Green and Howie Mandel. The event, co-chaired by Saget’s wife, Kelly Rizzo, also served as a tribute to the beloved comedian. Rizzo and Saget’s daughters were at the event together.
“What’s so great about tonight, the only thing that’s fun about it, is that we can show Bob that we wanted to do this,” Kimmel continued, adding, “Everyone should have a friend like Bob Saget. Tonight is 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 real Bob Saget.”
After dinner and a live auction, the comedy portion of the evening featured stand-up sets from Nealon, Mandel and surprise guest Dave Chappelle. Saget and Chappelle have been friends for decades, since the first’s surprise cameo in 1998 half baked. The memorable scene in the stoner comedy portrayed Saget less as the father of TV, and more as the raunchy prankster who knew those closest to him.
Chappelle took the stage after making sure everyone’s phones were put away. He started by going through most of his current material and told when he was attacked in the Hollywood Bowl four months ago. The comic called 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 for being bisexual.) Chappelle got the laugh of the famous crowd who remembered Chris Rock coming out after the stunning moment and joked that the attacker 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 for “doing the impossible” on his achievements and calls him one of the “sweetest” and “most honest” people he has ever met.
Chappelle said he received the message at a time when he really needed to hear those things, calling Saget “a wonderful human being.” The comedian said it was clear that Saget is “in this room tonight.”
“Tonight is important to him and I wouldn’t miss him for the world,” Chappelle said.
The evening concluded with a performance by Mayer, who was emotional throughout the event. He played some of ‘Bob’s favorite songs’, starting with ‘Who Says’ – with a very special guitar.
Mayer told the audience that he played the guitar Saget used at his last show in Florida. Rizzo tracked it down, bought it, and gave it to Mayer. The singer said it is one of his most valuable possessions.
Saget was found dead in his Florida hotel room on January 9. The actor was in the middle of a comedy tour and had performed hours before. 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 last interviews, Saget spoke proudly about his work with the Scleroderma Research Foundation. “I’ve done benefits for over 30 years and we’ve raised over $50 million,” he said. “It’s one of my life’s work.”
Scleroderma is a group of rare diseases in which the skin hardens and tightens. It can 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 hopes to change that. Wednesday’s event raised more than $1 million, something Saget would clearly be proud of.
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