There are many celebrities known for their extensive work with the causes closest to them, who use their visibility to raise awareness and funds for associated charities. Until now, none of those celebrities were known for starring in movies that had the words "porno" and "virgin" in the titles, which is why it was so surprising to see Seth Rogen's Alzheimer's speech, which he delivered to the Senate no less.
Rogen has joined the ranks of celebrities like Angelina Jolie by working with the government to seek aid for his cause. On Wednesday, he testified before a Senate subcommittee on medical research and was able to make an informative and emotional speech that still maintained his signature humor. The six-minute speech focuses on Rogen's mother-in-law, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at just 55 and inspired him to become active in raising awareness for the disease, as well as funds to support medical research, victims and their families.
From the beginning, Rogen proved that he could make Senators laugh, as he said he was thrilled "for the opportunity to be called an expert at something," and chided the committee's leader for having never seen Knocked Up. When the leader responded that he was pretty sure the term "knocked up" had never been used in a congressional hearing before, Rogen quickly responded "you’re not gonna like the rest of this then."
But rather than launch into the type of humor found in his movies, Rogen told the story of his wife's mother and her struggle with Alzheimer's. He explains what the experience has taught him about "the ugly truth" of the disease and how he found that there was a stigma associated with it. This all lead to Rogen starting Hilarity for Charity to raise money for victims and research, which just expanded to include a college aspect that allows students to hold their own fundraising events. In describing the charity, Rogen brought some humor back to the speech.
The fact that we actually got college students to stop playing video games and volunteer their time is a huge accomplishment, especially considering both XBOX One and Playstation 4 came out this year."
As he reached the end of his speech, Rogen mixed that humor with the very serious and important reasons he decided to come before Congress and speak up about Alzheimer's.
I came here today for a few reasons. One, I’m a huge House of Cards fan, just marathoned the whole thing, had to be here. Two is to say people need more help. I’ve personally seen the massive amount of financial strain this disease causes and if the American people ever decide to reject genitalia-driven comedy, I will no longer be able to afford it. Please don’t. Therefore I can’t begin to imagine how people with more limited incomes can are dealing with this.
The third reason Rogen appeared before the committee, he said, was to show people that they are not alone. Celebrities can start charities and do their best to donate and raise money for them, but for many issues like this one, visibility can be just as valuable. A key theme of the speech was how Alzheimer's is rarely spoken of, and instead whispered about as if it were something to ashamed of. Rogen put aside his goofy persona to tell people, and the committee, that the only way to cure the disease is to get people shouting about it.
If this is Rogen's serious side, he should bring it out more often. The comedian was able to shed light on a subject close to his and many others' hearts, and keep an important committee not just engaged, but entertained. Rogen proved that it doesn't take a serious actor to make a serious difference with just one speech. Watch it for yourself below.