Seth Rogen is an expert at making people laugh—you might even call it his job. Since his debut on the cult-classic comedy “Freaks and Geeks,” he has written, directed and starred in some of the most celebrated and iconic comedies of the last decade.

So when Rogen and his wife, Lauren Miller, decided to start a charity dedicated to Alzheimer’s education and research advocacy, it was a safe bet that they would infuse some element of entertainment into the mix.

"I’ve personally seen the massive amount of strain this disease causes. I can’t begin to imagine how people with more limited incomes are dealing with this."

Making a difference

Hilarity for Charity, the fruit of Rogen and Miller’s work, takes a new approach to fighting Alzheimer’s disease. Every year, the charity hosts a fundraiser called the HFC Variety Show to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association in the United States. The event features performances by famous comedians and musicians, and has included the likes of Aziz Ansari, Kevin Hart and The Backstreet Boys.

Last year, the charity expanded by launching HFC U, a nationwide program that encourages and supports college students to throw their very own HFC event.

“In the months since it started, 18 schools [across the United States] signed up to hold events,” Rogen said.

A personal link

This kind of advocacy may seem uncharacteristic for the 32-year-old and self-described “lazy self-indulged man-child.” But Alzheimer’s disease is something which has touched Rogen personally.

“I started dating my wife, Lauren, nine years ago when her mother was almost 54 years old. A year later, at 55 years old, Lauren’s mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s,” Rogen said.

“I saw the real ugly truth of the disease. After forgetting who she and her loved ones were. My mother-in-law then forgot how to speak, feed herself, dress herself and go to the bathroom herself, all by the age of 60.”

Widespread impact

As heartbreaking as Rogen’s story is, it is by no means an anomaly. Alzheimer’s disease is the seventh leading cause of death in Canada and currently affects the lives of 747,000 Canadians. What’s worse is that number is expected to double in the next ten years.

In response to this, various health organizations have expressed that Canada should develop a national dementia plan to better coordinate efforts in Alzheimer’s care-giving, research and programs.


Congressional testimony

Rogen offered his own version of this idea last year when he testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee, delivering a passionate, humor-laced plea for more awareness and support of Alzheimer’s disease.

“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,” Rogen joked.

“Two, is to say, people need more help. I’ve personally seen the massive amount of strain this disease causes. I can’t begin to imagine how people with more limited incomes are dealing with this. The third reason I’m here, simply, is to show people that they are not alone, as so few people share their personal stories.”

Alzheimer’s is something that affects everyone, young and old. Raising public awareness about the disease is crucial to combating it. As Rogen says, “Alzheimer’s sucks,” but everyone can do their part to help find a cure.