In its 5th year, The Bob Woodruff Foundation and The New York Comedy Festival's night of Stand Up for Heroes, featured a number of comedy's best voices, Ricky Gervais, Jim Gaffigan, Seth Meyers and Jon Stewart among them, but this annual laugh fest to benefit something very serious also had a few personalities less known for making people laugh. Bill Clinton thought it odd he'd open at a comedy night and had a great moment reminding the packed Beacon Theater that through genome research he's learned that he, Hillary and Chelsea are all descended from Neanderthals. Even Bruce Springsteen got into the comedy: showing off New Jersey moxie and menschlechkeit, he graces this stage every year, rocking out and auctioning off a guitar or two.
Professional routines notwithstanding, the Boss got the biggest laugh cavorting about as he sang backed by the Max Weinberg Big Band, landing in the audience's lap -- literally -- and hand delivering his electric guitar, harmonica with stand, and his plaid shirt to the highest bidder ($160,000). But not before he told a joke, mangling it: something about a man showing another's severed penis to his wife, and her saying, "oh, Smith is dead."
Such was the good will in the room where Katie Couric, Glenn Close, Nancy Jarecki, and Greg Kinnear, mingled with the armed guard and heroes of our occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, some in wheelchairs. Many are aided by the Bob Woodruff Foundation through its funding of other organizations dedicated to helping servicemen and their families.
Like Andrew Kinard, a commander who lost both legs and was grateful to have been the worst hurt of his command, until his buddy James Scott MacKenzie committed suicide last month. The story was so moving that the guitar buyer asked that his newly acquired keepsake be given to Andrew Kinard. And then the evening took on the hilarious drama of locating the guitar, lost backstage, with Springsteen joining in the hunt. Noting the chaos, Brian Williams quipped to the patient audience, "Of all the benefits you could choose... "
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A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.