Ben Affleck v. Seth Rogen: Dueling Hill testimonies

February 27
Actor Seth Rogen testified on the effects of Alzheimer's disease on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Few senators showed up to the hearing, where Rogen called attention to a disease that has plagued members of his own family. (JulieAnn McKellogg/The Washington Post)

Was this the patio of the Ivy or was it the Dirksen Senate Office building?

One could have been forgiven for being confused on Wednesday afternoon, when two — count ‘em two — bona fide celebs came to the Senate to testify. And in the spirit of the Oscars, we’re pitting them against one another.

The celebs:

Funnyman Seth Rogen made his Capitol Hill debut, appearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee to talk about Alzheimer’s disease.

Actor and director Ben Affleck appeared in his recurring role as an expert on the Democratic Republic of Congo at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

Their cred:

Rogen’s mother-in-law suffers from the disease, which prompted him to found Hilarity for Charity, which raises money for the Alzheimer’s Association.

In 2010 Affleck founded the Eastern Congo Initiative, a non-profit organization that supports locally-run economic development initiatives in the central African country.

The audience:

The Appropriations hearing room is bigger than the Foreign Relations committee’s, so Rogen had a slightly bigger crowd. But Affleck drew way more looky-loo staffers and admirers.

Their entourage: 

Team Rogen was rolling relatively shallow: The star was accompanied by his wife, Lauren, and shepherded around by a few staffers from the Alzheimer’s Association. Affleck, by contrast, had a posse (and security) worthy of a head of state, surrounded by a gaggle of Capitol Police.

Their approach: 

Affleck stuck to the issues, while Rogan opted for laugh lines.

Best line: 

Rogen: “I’ve personally seen the financial strain this disease causes, and if the American people ever decide to reject genitalia-driven comedy, I would no longer be able to afford it. Please don’t.”

Affleck: “It’s the Congolese folks who are making the real difference and it’s those people who are inspiring me to do this work.”

Bonus points: 

Rogen got in a bit of a dig at the competition, when we asked after the hearing which actor was a better advocate for his cause. Rogen appeared surprised to hear that Affleck was nearby, and asked what he was testifying about. “The Congo,” we told him. “I don’t know,” Rogen shot back. “Does he live there?”

Affleck managed to lighten the mood in the room a few times by taking a few fun shots at Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), whose wife Cindy is a founding member of the ECI. When praised during the hearing for how much he eschewed his own fame for the facts, Affleck responded, “I’ve always considered John McCain the real celebrity — that’s the one thing we have in common.”

The verdict:

And the Oscar goes to… OK, we’re chickening out here. Both of them win! Let’s give Affleck a Lifetime Achievement Award for his many treks to the Hill. And Rogen wins our Best Newcomer statuette for an impressive freshman turn.

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