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Judd Apatow has a funny way of raising money for 826LA

October 30, 2010 | 11:17 am

Garry Shandling and Judd Apatow at the Writers Guild of America

When Judd Apatow was a little boy, he played with everyone, all the kids in the sandbox -- he was good that way. How does the Ministry know this? His grandmother told us.

We rubbed elbows with Gram, who was looking spiffy in a sparkly cocktail dress, heading into the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills for Apatow's "I Found This Funny: An Evening of Music and Comedy." Was she proud?  "Meh -- nothing phases me," she said in a heavy Brooklyn-Jewish accent. "I’ve known him since he was born."

Humor runs in the family.

Aziz Ansarit and 826-LA executive director Joel Arquillos The evening was a big-ticket benefit concert for 826LA, a tutoring center for kids founded by author-screenwriter and McSweeney's publisher Dave Eggers ("Where the Wild Things Are"). With his wife, novelist Vendela Vida, by his side, Eggers greeted guests as they streamed into the lobby for a pre-show cocktail party studded with almost as many big-name comics as CAA agents -- Garry Shandling, Aziz Ansari and Maria Bamford among them. All three standups performed rousing, crowd-pleasing sets later during the show, when Shandling gave Ansari advice on women and dating. Penis extensions, Shandling said -- he'd toyed with the idea, except that he was afraid of stretch marks. 

Monty Python's Eric Idle humored the crowd during the cocktail reception and repeatedly posed for pictures with adoring fans, murmuring one "thank you" after another in his British lilt. Nearby, Apatow lingered by the bar with singer Fiona Apple, who was sporting a black fishnet blouse and … a waist-high wooden cane? She wouldn't say why she was hobbling around, but she made the look work. 

Writer-director-producer James Brooks was spotted; so was Mandy Moore, there with husband Ryan Adams, who later performed some of the hauntingly beautiful songs from his new album. Randy Newman also played to the packed house. All 500 seats were filled, with standing room only in the back and even a few guests plunked down on the floor in the aisles. The standout act of the night, though, was Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham, who sang his heart out and ended the evening with a roaring standing ovation. 
 
Why did Apatow go all-out for a night of A-list comedy and music to raise cash in the name of children and literacy? "Out of pure Jewish guilt," he said during the show. Guilt and the fact that Catherine Keener, who told him to get involved with 826LA, scares the crap out of him, he said.

So he listened to her.

-- Deborah Vankin

Twitter.com/debvankin

Photos, from top: Garry Shandling, left, and Judd Apatow at the 826LA benefit "An Evening of Music and Comedy" at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills on Friday; Aziz Ansari, left, with 826LA Executive Director Joel Arquillos. Credit: Jon Weinberg / 826-LA

Related dispatches from or presented by the Ministry of Gossip:

Judd Apatow and Dave Eggers team up for 'I Found This Funny'

Steven Spielberg, Judd Apatow, Idina Menzel and more show up for Obama

Zac Efron, Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann welcome Bill Hader to Hollywood

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