“I didn’t realize the full on hatred people had for hurricanes,” Jon Hamm said to the sold out Club Nokia in Los Angeles on Monday night.
Alongside his friend Adam Scott, Hamm was there to host the “We Hate Hurricanes” benefit, a comedy fundraiser for the victims of Hurricane Sandy with proceeds going to the non-profit AmeriCares. For under $50, the audience was treated to an A-List variety show featuring a performance by Beck and standup sets by Sarah Silverman, Chelsea Peretti, and Aziz Ansari.
The biggest surprise of the night happened early on, when Hamm and Scott called someone named Dave Duncan to the stage. Click past the jump to read more.
The audience clapped hesitantly in anticipation of the promised juggling act. But that timid applause quickly turned to manic excitement when they realized that “Dave Duncan” was actually Will Ferrell. They weren’t playing a trick though. Ferrell was there to do a bit about a juggler who’d forgotten to bring his equipment. After a little encouragement from the hosts, “Dave Duncan” decided to proceed with a mimed juggling act set to Evanescence’s “Wake Me Up Inside.” He even brought a scared teenage boy up on stage at one point and started to fake juggle around him.
The event came together by chance, and was originally conceived as a very different night with Jon Hamm and John Slattery. Though an evening with Don Draper and Roger Sterling would have been something to see, scheduling got tricky. But then Ansari signed on, and the comedians followed. The timing of “We Hate Hurricanes” was also coincidental – it was scheduled on the same week as the much hyped 12-12-12 Concert taking place in New York on Wednesday, which benefits the Robin Hood Foundation’s Sandy relief efforts.
Backstage showed a different side of the tightly staged show. Instead of retreating back to dressing rooms or break rooms, everyone stayed and watched their fellow performers from the wings. Will Ferrell watched Silverman’s set closely, laughing frequently at Silverman’s sometimes crass humor dealing with subjects like race and rape. When Ferrell’s mime act ended, he rushed off stage excitedly and immediately started recapping with Ansari. As the hosts, Hamm and Scott were the most attentive watchers, and seemed genuinely curious and amused with what was happening on stage. It was a community effort on behalf of Sandy relief efforts, and the backstage atmosphere only supported that.
When Beck took the stage midway through the show decked out in a black cowboy hat and a loose leather jacket, he joked that “we are the anti-comic relief,” and proceeded to treat the audience to a short set of songs including “Strange Apparition,” “The Golden Age,” “Lost Cause,” and a new song from his just-released book Song Reader called “I’m Down and This Town Is A Nuisance.” Beck then broke from the dreamy alt country tune to play something from the 90s, or, as he said, the time “before Gaga.” The audience went a little wild when he started strumming the chords for “MTV Makes Me Want to Smoke Crack.”
Comedian Chelsea Peretti followed Beck. A writer on Parks and Recreation, host of the podcast “Call Chelsea Peretti,” Peretti has appeared on Louie and The Sarah Silverman Program. It was Silverman who laughed the loudest as Peretti teased Hamm and Scott for being “the essence of masculinity” and asked the audience whether it’s worse to “wear a fedora or kill 15 people.”
Ansari closed out the evening with a 50-minute set joking about babies, marriage, maturity, and love. The spirit of the event was light but purposeful, and the coy title “We Hate Hurricanes” reflected that. This was no bleeding heart display of devastation. It was a group of extremely talented friends using their platforms to put on a great show and raise a little money for Sandy relief.