Jon Stewart, Bruce Springsteen, Rita Wilson and more stars performed as a tribute to U.S. veterans and their families at the New York Comedy Festival and Bob Woodruff Foundation’s Stand Up for Heroes event Monday.
Held at David Geffen Hall at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the night included performances from musicians and comics, including Stewart, Springsteen, Wilson, Josh Groban, John Mellencamp, Tracy Morgan, The War and Treaty, Jimmy Carr, Ronny Chieng and Shane Gillis.
Video messages from Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, who attended the event in person last year and tried his hand at some recorded stand-up comedy this year, and first lady Jill Biden were also shown.
ABC News journalist Woodruff, who was severely injured by an IED explosion during a reporting trip to Iraq in 2006, and his wife Lee Woodruff came out throughout the charity event to express their thanks for the troops and promote their foundation, which focuses on financially supporting vets, service members and their families. Throughout the evening, $14 million was raised for the Bob Woodruff Foundation.
Woodruff spoke about returning to Baghdad for an ABC News special airing this week, and how he hopes it represents what veterans and service members go through as well. “We just wanted to finish this mission,” Woodruff said. “We were taken away from where we wanted to finish our job. Our story is really our family and, more importantly, it’s also the story of so many of our service members who are families and families that are here right now.”
When Stewart took the stage, he also took the liberty of throwing several shots at his 60-year-old status and the likely age of the donors in the room. “I just turned 60 years old. You know you’re getting old when you say how old you are and people clap,” Stewart said, amid a loud round of clapping. “When I was on ‘The Daily Show,’ I had a suit on, the makeup, the lights were beautiful — and if you watched that show you probably thought, that guy could get upstairs, no problem.”
He added: “The sad thing is, I’m rich, I don’t have to look like this. Many people do surgery on people like me. But I wake up in the morning and go, ah, fuck it. Aging is a humiliating process. Many of you are experiencing it, that’s clear. It’s a charity event, so you’re the people with disposable income because who knows how long you have.”
Following Stewart’s set, Mellencamp came out to sing, first solo and then accompanied by Springtseen, and told a story about the younger Stewart.
“He was working at a thing called MTV News, you guys remember that?” Mellencamp said. “I was his first interview, so he’s stuttering around, he’s nervous. He’s got like six questions, took him an hour and a half to get them out. So finally, after suffering through all this with Jon for his first interview, he goes, ‘Do you think I was getting OK at the end?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, it was good. Good, good, can we just do this again?’”
The 17th annual Stand Up for Heroes is a part of the New York Comedy Festival, which runs Nov. 3 to 12. In 2007, New York Comedy Festival founders Caroline Hirsch and Andrew Fox partnered with Bob and Lee Woodruff to put on the first Stand Up for Heroes.