It seems only fitting that, hot on the heels of his recently released memoir Dirty Daddy, which mixes humor with heartache as it delves into his own personal experiences with life and death, Bob Saget returns to Las Vegas Thur., June 5, to host Cool Comedy – Hot Cuisine—a fundraiser benefiting the Scleroderma Research Foundation.
Longtime fans of the “Full House” funnyman might recall that Saget’s sister Gay passed away from scleroderma, a chronic progressive disease most common among women in which connective tissue anywhere in the body becomes hardened and rigid, 20 years ago. However, five years before she died—“maybe more,” according to Saget—the comedian became involved with the Scleroderma Research Foundation, hosting Cool Comedy – Hot Cuisine for his dear friend, founder Sharon Monsky.
“She was such a strong woman, and her struggle really affected me,” Saget told Examiner.com. “Scleroderma is such a disfiguring disease, and once my sister was diagnosed with it, I was in [the Scleroderma Research Foundation] for life.”
The first Cool Comedy – Hot Cuisine event featured Robin Williams, who Saget said was cornered at chef (and Monsky’s friend from college) Susan Feniger’s former restaurant, Street, in West Hollywood and “couldn’t say no” once he met Monsky (Williams has gone on to perform at the fundraiser several times since). Saget performed at the event a couple years later, then a relatively unknown comic sharing the stage with Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O’Donnell. Now a proud board member, Saget co-produces and hosts the flagship fundraiser, which has raised more than $30 million dollars for the Scleroderma Research Foundation. The nation’s largest nonprofit investor in scleroderma research, the Scleroderma Research Foundation funds research investigators at some of the nation’s top universities and abroad, including Dartmouth, Harvard and John Hopkins.
“It really is the best benefit that exists,” Saget said. “The food is so amazing, and we always try to have everything done before 10 p.m. so people can have a life. Sometimes you go to these types of events and they just drag on and don’t really have a focus—we pride ourselves on making the perfect event.”
The inaugural Las Vegas fundraiser will be held at the House of Blues inside Mandalay Bay and feature music from Ben Folds, who Saget said texted him personally to say he was going to do the benefit.
“It really broke my heart,” Saget said. “He’s going to do a full show with a grand piano and everything. It will be a wonderful set.”
Aside from Ben Folds, who Saget noted isn’t scheduled to perform in Las Vegas for quite some time, the event will feature a special guest comedian and hot cuisine from “Top Chef Masters” personalities Feniger (also a founding board member of the Scleroderma Research Foundation), Mary Sue Milliken (Feniger’s co-chef/owner at Border Grill) and Rick Moonen (chef at rm Seafood and Rx Boiler Room inside The Shoppes at Mandalay Place). There will also be a small number of live auction packages.
“It will be a full show,” Saget said. “It’s not your typical Las Vegas show—it’s a special night to help the people we care about.”
While the past two Cool Comedy – Hot Cuisine events have raised more than $600,000 each, Saget said the Scleroderma Research Foundation has never sat down and said, “We’re going to make this much money.”
“Maybe someone will get lucky at the tables and donate something to us,” Saget joked. “Really, though, we never put any expectations on an event. The key is just to never lose any money—how much we raise is really just the luck of the draw.”
Saget noted that the high-end tables typically cover each fundraiser’s costs and that all of the food is donated. His job, aside from hosting the event, is primarily to sell the general admission seats.
“It’s different upstairs (in general admission),” Saget noted. “There’s a bar and everyone gets a signed copy of my book, Dirty Daddy, for free, which the downstairs guests don’t get. I might even give guests a quick reach around. Heck, I’ll take them to Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab (one of Saget’s favorite Vegas restaurants) for four nights! Okay, maybe not that last part, but it will be a fun night. We try not to take people to too dark a place.”
General admission tickets cost $150 and include two drink tickets for the featured cocktail as well as a snack box. Premium individual seats cost $500 and include a four-course dinner experience prepared by Feniger, Milliken and Moonen. Tables range from $2,500-$15,000. Cocktails begin at 6:30 p.m. with dinner served at 7:30 p.m.; general admission doors open at 7:15 p.m. For more information on the inaugural Las Vegas Cool Comedy – Hot Cuisine event, visit the Scleroderma Research Foundation’s official web site or call the Scleroderma Research Foundation Mon-Fri. from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at 800-441-2873. The event typically sells out in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, so be sure to purchase your seats in advance.
For more on Bob Saget, visit bobsaget.com.