Seth Rogen appeared before a US Senate subcommittee on Wednesday to deliver a heartfelt plea for increased federal funding for Alzheimer’s disease research. The “Knocked Up” and “Pineapple Express” actor struck just the right balance between off-color humor and serious candor in his testimony, using plenty of Yiddish to break the ice.
The only problem was that only two members of Congress bothered to stay to listen to him.
Rogen, 31, let it be known later during an interview on MSNBC’s “Hardball” that he was extremely miffed by the decision of the majority of Senate Appropriation Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services members to absent themselves during his testimony. Only Senators Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) showed up and stayed in their seats.
“It’s indicative of a mentality that we find so frustrating. It seems like these people don’t care,” he told host Chris Matthews.
The actor-turned-Alzheimer’s activist was also confounded by a tweet from Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois thanking him for his testimony. “@SenatorKirk pleasure meeting you. Why did you leave before my speech? Just curious,” Rogen tweeted back.
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Close to 85,000 people succumb to it every year, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics.
In his speech, Rogen, who was accompanied by his wife Lauren Miller, described how watching his mother-in-law suffer greatly from early-onset Alzeheimer’s compelled him to speak out. He said he was frustrated by the stigma attached to the disease, and that he has come to appreciate what a heavy toll the disease takes on families both financially and emotionally.
“I came here today for few reasons. One I’m a huge ‘House of Cards’ fan… Two, people need more help. I’ve personally witnessed the massive amount of financial strain this disease causes…Three, to show people they are not alone; so few people share their personal stories,” he told the subcommittee.
Rogen told the senators that he and his wife have started a charitable organization called Hilarity for Charity to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s, as well as to raise funds for research. It has launched HFC U, a nationwide program encouraging college groups to get involved.
“The situation is so dire, that it caused me, a lazy, self-involved, generally self-medicated man-child, to start an entire charity organization,” Rogen said.