Mediocrity For Charity.
A charity for Alzheimer’s Disease, organized and hosted by Seth Rogen, HILARITY FOR CHARITY is about as funny as Alzheimer’s Disease.
Filmed onstage before a live audience at the Hollywood Palladium on March 24, 2018, hosted by Seth Rogen sporting a Noah-beard, HILARITY is an annual cavalcade of standups, pre-taped skits and various eclectic bits, the general standard of which is so low for this 2018 Special, the acts almost undermine Rogen’s very admirable cause – raising funding for research into Alzheimer’s.
With a runtime of just over 70 minutes, the most pertinent, poignant bit – a pre-taped mission statement, showing how the charity helps Alzheimer’s victims, and how Seth came to be involved due to his mother-in-law being stricken with the disease – is placed so late in the program, we wonder if it isn’t to wash the taste of the show out of our minds. This segment is preceded by Seth and his wife, Lauren Miller, speaking onstage about Lauren’s stricken mother Adele and showing footage of Adele’s deterioration.
This segment also shows how Seth and company use the donations to help with home-care for victims. It’s the most touching part of the show, sincere and humane. And to cap it, Kermit the Frog joins them onstage for a sing-along. And I hoped it wouldn’t be Rainbow Connection, because that song has brought me to irrational tears since my youth and – uh-oh… okay, you win, Seth.
This mission statement segment is so sad and honest, I wonder if it couldn’t have been placed earlier in the night, which would have palliated the lackluster performances.
Of all the standup comics, only two felt like they were doing a real comedy set, while everyone else seemed to be trying out B-list bits they cobbled together at the last minute. The two actual funny acts were veteran stirrer Sarah Silverman (looking really sexy, as usual), and Tiffany Haddish, whose energy lifted her last act of the night to end on an upbeat note. Everyone else was simply – as Seth’s Jewish ancestors might say – meh.
Seth himself opens the Special with a pre-taped skit featuring Nick Kroll, where he is sent to hell and meets the devil. It’s uncomfortable when it’s this unfunny. Michelle Wolf (THE DAILY SHOW) is a bad choice for one of the first comics, complaining about men in that horrible nasal whine, which I could only take for 1 minute before clicking forward. Michael Che (SNL) is weak sauce. John Mulaney is a male version of Michelle Wolf, meaning lame jokes done in a mind-searing, nasally chalkboard voice. Fozzy Bear pretends to “die” onstage – but he’s really dying. There is even a gross-out cartoon that features cocks, balls and a close-up anal sphincter defecating. You really have to be as stoned as Seth, to even consider this comedy.
Seth makes a big deal out of “tricking the Netflix algorithm,” so that this Special will be featured in every genre, from comedy to drama to talk show (featuring Chris Hardwick), to animated, etc. Jeff Goldblum cameos as “The Netflix Algorithm” which is kinda funny, because he’s Jeff Goldblum fer chrissakes.
Craig Robinson is band leader (so he really is a muso! – as he was on HOT TUB TIME MACHINE). I didn’t expect much from Kumail Nanjiani, but I expected more from Chelsea Peretti. Even super comedian Sacha Baron Cohen as “Sir David Attenborat” was uncharacteristically average. My point is: if you’re going to call an event HILARITY FOR CHARITY, at least have something be hilarious.
Now understand that I’m a big Seth Rogen fan; Seth, like Judd Apatow, is the comedy voice of a generation. He hooked into the millennial funny bone and still rides that fickle tiger. He’s a living example of a stoner who is NOT unmotivated and lazy! But maybe he’s overstayed his welcome, or maybe the worlds of comedy and real tragedy just collide too catastrophically for comfort; whatever the case, this Special just doesn’t work for me. There are laughs from the audience, yes, but is it because of the spirit of the event or because the acts are funny? Who can tell? In the end, when the donations are counted, does anyone care? If it was funnier would there have been more donations? Did the night’s lameness actually make any viewers hold off on donating? Who knows?
Donate, yes. Any cause for debilitating diseases is a good cause. However, this Netflix Special [incoming Alzheimer’s gag] – forget about it!