Bob Saget’s longtime friends John Mayer, Jeff Ross, Jimmy Kimmel and Dave Chappelle came together to honor the late comedian on Wednesday in support of a cause he had been a part of for 30 years.
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Mayer, Ross and Kimmel hosted the Scleroderma Research Foundation’s annual “Cool Comedy, Hot Cuisine” fundraiser in Beverly Hills, which also served as a night of tribute to Saget, who died in January at 65 after an accidental blow to the head.
The Full House actor had been a passionate advocate for the Scleroderma Research Foundation ever since he lost his sister Gay to the disease, a rare and often life-threatening autoimmune condition that can cause fibrosis of the skin and other vital organs, in 1994. Saget joined the Scleroderma Research Foundation. board of directors in 2003, but his participation began in 1991 through “Cool Comedy, Hot Cuisine”, as an assistant, actor and, finally, as a key figure in the organization and production of the event.
This year, instead, Kimmel kicked off the night with sentimentality and gallows humor, joking that “these reservations have really gotten a lot better since Bob died,” with Bill Burr, Rosie O’Donnell and Kathy Griffin among the stand-ups on hand. Kimmel called out Ross and Mayer to follow him; Mayer noted that “this is the first time I’ve come to a scleroderma benefit where Bob, as Jimmy said, hasn’t asked me to do this event, but then apologized profusely as he asked me to do this event.”
He continued, “What’s so fun about tonight, the only fun thing about this, is we get to show Bob that we wanted to do this, we always wanted to do this.” Ross added: “I’m going to try to keep this as festive as possible. Everyone should have a friend like Bob Saget; tonight is a tribute, but it’s also a celebration that we all met this guy, who came to have this influence on our lives. You didn’t really know Bob until you saw him host a scleroderma research dinner; that was the real Bob Saget. He was emotional, it was the most sincere I’ve ever seen him on stage other than when he was performing on Broadway or something.”
Saget’s wife, Kelly Rizzo, also served as co-chair for the evening, with their children and family members in the crowd alongside SRF board members Regina Hall and chef Susan Feniger, Norman Lear, Joel McHale, Kevin Nealon, Seth Green and Howie Mandel. Saget’s Full House castmates John Stamos, Lori Loughlin and Jodie Sweetin also attended.
Feniger handled the “Hot Kitchen” portion of the evening, which happened to be an auction that raised over $1 million for the foundation (and included two of Mayer’s personal guitars). Stamos took to the stage to introduce a video tribute to Saget, after a series of jokes telling the crowd, “I’ve talked about him a lot, I’ve written a lot about him, and I love him so much I’d give anything to have him.” him back.
A common theme throughout the event was also Saget’s disgusting sense of humor, with McHale declaring that “Bob was the dirtiest, most empathetic person on the planet…. There was no successful dirty person who was loved more,” and he shared some of the R-rated text messages Saget had sent him over the years.
For the comedy portion of the night, Nealon and Mandel made short introductions before a special appearance by Chappelle, another old friend of Saget’s. Chappelle, who took the stage after all phones in the audience had been blocked, admitted: “Tonight I got drunk because I love Bob so much. Bob, I can feel you in this room tonight.”
After reviewing his current stand-up material, which included documenting his onstage attack at the Hollywood Bowl in May, Chappelle convinced Burr to join him onstage as the two talked about each other’s pranks. Chappelle had a drink onstage in Saget’s honor and played a video message for the crowd that he had sent Chappelle just a few months before her death, in which Saget expressed her love and appreciation for her friend. .
“What a fantastic human being,” Chappelle said, also noting how Saget had mentioned the benefit of scleroderma to him over the years and when Chappelle finally got a year old, Saget wept. The comedian said that he would now continue to do favors for Saget forever, and although he had joked throughout the set about how he felt he was bombing, he noted that it was an honor to be there.
Mayer closed the night with an emotional and story-laden performance, commenting on how nine months after Saget’s death it is still impossible for him to understand that the star is actually gone, as his memories of him are so clear. Mayer revealed that he was playing the guitar that Saget had played during his last show in Florida: Rizzo had tracked it down and bought it, then gave it to Mayer, who said it was one of his most prized possessions. He then played, as he put it, “Bob’s favorite songs.”
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.