The Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles saw a not-so-13-year-old actor, James Franco, finally become a man—courtesy of a unique bar mitzvah fundraiser organized by longtime pal Seth Rogen’s organization Hilarity for Charity to raise awareness and funds for the Alzheimer’s Association.
The evening began with emcee Rogen taking the stage, delivering an avant-garde take on Fiddler on the Roof. Rogen, who met the now-37-year-old Franco as a teen when the two co-starred on the cult TV series Freaks and Geeks, was dressed as the bearded lead character Tevye, dancing and shouting “Tradition!!” The fellow Member of the Tribe (MOT) established a playful, good-fun tone that carried through the rest of the evening.
The lineup continued with side-splittingly hilarious acts from top comedians and magicians such as Kyle Kinane, Al Madrigal, Ron Funches, and Justin Willman.
“Following a magician at a bar mitzvah has always been a dream of mine,” joked former Daily Show correspondent Madrigal.
The man of the hour himself, James Franco, took the stage providing an overview of his special preparations for the bar mitzvah, which consisted of watching the Darren Aronofsky-directed movie Noah on Netflix.
Rogen made it a point to share Franco’s circumcision process, and brought out surprise celebrity guest “Rabbi Goldblum” (Jeff Goldblum) to perform the dicey surgery. As Goldblum narrowed in on the vulnerable Franco, who was spread out on an operating table, Zac Efron suddenly appeared on the large screen displays behind the stage, providing a final, despeate plea dressed as Franco’s “private parts.”
Between all the laughter and comedy skits, a continuous auction took place with the help of comedian Bill Hader. Items such as multi-day trips to Mexico and Peru were bid on, along with the chance to hang out with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who’s played by Rogen in the biopic Jobs. The first item, a simple yarmulke signed by Rogen and comedian Bill Hader, went for $3,400, and came with the added bonus of Hader performing a short skit in the voice of his beloved SNL character Stefon.
The L.A.-based pop-rock band, Haim, made an appearance as well to perform their rendition of the traditional Jewish celebratory anthem “Hava Nagila.”
“We were about to dip into the old savings bank ourselves, but then the auction prices got crazy high,” uttered Haim. “It’s great to see how much money was raised tonight.”
The event came to a close with a group of musicians taking the stage dressed in muscle suits and a large Star of David emblem across their chests, led by none other than Miley Cyrus. Meet Miley’s new Jewish band: Miley Cyrustein & The Super Jews. They immediately jumped right into a cover of Rick James’s “Super Freak.”
“A few things are going to get ridiculous tonight and that’s coming from someone who flew around on a giant hotdog for 20,000 people for 10 months,” said Cyrus. The singer continued with a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man,” which she dedicated especially to Mr. Franco.
“Well, this is only my second bar mitzvah but this song hadn’t come out yet, but I heard it pops off at bar mitzvahs,” Cyrus announced. “This song is a classic even though I only did it a year ago, this song is called ‘We Can’t Stop.’”
Cyrus, as is her wont, thrusted her hips in an electric blue leotard thong as she whipped her long braids across the stage. The pop star ended the night with a cover of “Shout” by Lulu—requested by Rogen—as fans and celebrities rushed the stage to join in the celebration.
Although the event saw little of the actual James Franco, HFC was able to maintain a focus toward the true highlight of the night: building millennial awareness for Alzheimer’s. Including this fourth annual event, Hilarity For Charity has made over $4 million in donations since its inception.
For anyone interested in learning more about Hilarity for Charity or how you can join, please visit http://www.hilarityforcharity.org.