Comedians and singers joined forces on Monday for an event in New York City designed to raise money for military veterans. Some kept the event apolitical while others, such as Jon Stewart, seized the opportunity to poke fun at Donald Trump.
Stand Up for Heroes was co-presented by the Bob Woodruff Foundation, which funds programs for injured veterans and their families, and the New York Comedy Festival.
Performers at the event included Stewart, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Church, Jimmy Carr, Jim Gaffigan and more. Stewart, a longtime performer at the show, opened his set ridiculing the notion that America faced a threat from thousands of Central American migrants traveling northward in a caravan. “I’m so scared,” he said. “There’s thousands of sharecroppers coming at America at 1 to 2 miles per hour. They’ll be here by April.”
Jimmy Carr, a British comedian, hit the stage with mostly blue, edgy material, but had some jokes at the expense of the commander in chief. “Walls work,” he deadpanned. “I was in China last year. I didn’t see one Mexican.”
But the other comedians on the bill stayed away from politics, despite the event being held on the eve of divisive midterm elections. Last year’s event was more political, with comics such as John Oliver and Trevor Noah attending.
Gaffigan, for example, poked fun at himself and his weight in his typical self-deprecating style. As for the singers, they chose to stay relatively subdued politically, despite their vocal views.
Even Seth Meyers, who spends a good portion of his show “Late Night” slamming the Trump administration, chose to keep the event about comedy and the veterans, opting to tell a story about the birth of his first child.
Springsteen, a vocal critic of several White House policies, avoided politics completely at the Stand Up for Heroes show, instead offering a few off-color jokes and four songs, including “Dancing in the Dark,” ”The Hard Land” and “If I Should Fall Behind” with his wife, Patti Scialfa.
The Boss, wearing jeans, a white shirt and a jean jacket, was returning to the event, now in its 12th year, having been the musical guest since the beginning — last year, the Red Hot Chili Peppers took his spot as he worked on his one-man show, “Springsteen on Broadway.”
Eric Church played three songs, including “Desperate Man,” ”Hippie Radio” and the unreleased “Still Standing Their Ground.” He strapped on a guitar to join Springsteen on “Working on the Highway.”
The audience also cheered dozens of servicemen and servicewomen from Iraq and Afghanistan who were seated in the first few rows. “These wars are not over,” Woodruff said. “There is still a need for our mission and there will be that need for years to come.” He and his wife also urged everyone to vote on Tuesday.
The Bob Woodruff foundation is named for the ABC news anchor injured in Iraq in 2006. It raised over $5.4 million at the event, held at the 6,000-seat Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.