It's 0530 in the morning and I'm packed into a cement bunker along with dozens of groggy troops as a pre-recorded voice booms over the base loudspeakers, letting us know that we're in the middle of another rocket attack. It's an all-too familiar morning here in Kandahar; so much so, I'm beginning to find myself vaguely attracted to the sexy, disembodied voice of the pre-recorded British lady who will soon be cooing, "All clear." But this morning's rocket attack doesn't bother me quite so much. Because a day before, I was standing in the base USO tent, joking around with Jon Stewart.
"Here Jon, let me give you some tips on comedy..."
His surprise visit -- along with Karl Malone and David Blaine -- not only boosted my morale as a soldier, but as a comedian. And I'm sure he was just as surprised to find a fellow Jew in the middle of a military base in Afghanistan. Not as surprised, though, I'm sure, as he was to discover the famed Poop Pond on base...
For the hour or so he was with the troops, his genuine support and humor charmed the room, even those who were probably wondering, "What the hell is this liberal New York Jew doing here?" And then he was off to several more bases, FOB-hopping his way across Afghanistan and then right back to work Monday morning -- not missing a beat, ready for another taping of The Daily Show. Such a mensch! Something has to be said about the strength of character it takes to fly thousands of miles across the globe just to say "hi" and "thank you" to complete strangers in the middle of a war zone. Especially in a place that's not particularly known for its fondness of Jews... or liberals.
For me personally, it was pretty cool to meet someone I've admired for nearly 20 years, from when I first discovered him on Short Attention Span Theater. Sure, he and I have made vastly different choices over the last 20 years, but hey, we both ended up in Afghanistan last Saturday!
Meeting comedy icons while at war is becoming something of a trend for me, I guess. In 2009, Stephen Colbert taped four shows while I was in Iraq and I got the chance to help out with that.
Me and my BFF, Stephen Colbert
I can't wait to see who I'll meet during the next war!