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NEW YORK – It was a night of laughs and tears in the Big Apple.
Host Conan O’Brien, Lewis Black, Robin Williams, Brian Regan and Bruce Springsteen were among the stars who took to the stage here Wednesday for an evening of comedic and musical performances to benefit the Bob Woodruff Family Fund.
The star-studded “Stand Up for Heroes,” which was part of the fourth annual New York Comedy Festival, brought out a big audience, including such audience favorites as Stephen Colbert, James Gandolfini, Bette Midler, Kelly Ripa, Kimberly Dozier, Diane Sawyer and Brian Williams.
Entertainment industry executives also came out in force to the Town Hall theater just off Times Square, including News Corp. president and COO Peter Chernin, CBS Corp. president and CEO Leslie Moonves and NBC Universal president and CEO Jeff Zucker.
The Bob Woodruff Family Fund helps people injured while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Its emphasis is on so-called “hidden signature injuries” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) and combat stress disorders.
After a selection of military music, Bob and Lee Woodruff walked on stage to a standing ovation.
“All these media titans and sometimes competitors united in the same cause,” Woodruff said in expressing his gratitude to the many supporters.
His wife started the laughs by recounting how she bought him a plaque for his 45th birthday after his injury. It said: “If it’s not lethal, it’s no big deal.”
She went on to say she blamed Stephen Colbert who had poked fun at Woodruff in some skits — at which point Colbert got up in the audience to big applause. The Comedy Central star simply quipped that his appearance should be funny — “because my writers are on strike.”
O’Brien started out with some strike punchlines as well.
“I’m the host for the evening, and my writers are on strike,” he said. “You brave men and women, if you have a joke, I’ll pay cash. Meet me in the lobby.”
O’Brien added that there is good news about the strike though. “If it continues, there will not be a third Deuce Bigalow movie,” he quipped. “My mother wrote that one…but unfortunately she’s with the WGA, so she’s in trouble.”
O’Brien earned particularly big laughs with a bit about a made-for-TV movie he claimed NBC was making about the current debate in Washington DC about which politician could end the Iraq war.
He moved on to show photos of politicians and stars who he joked have been cast to play them. Among the highlights: Newt Gingrich – Dame Judi Dench, Rudy Giuliani – Skeletor,
Osama bin Laden – Scotty Pippen, Condi Rice – Snoop Dogg and Hilary Clinton – Chucky.
The show continued with Springsteen playing some tunes and trying his hand at a couple of jokes, earning a standing ovation and “Bruce” chants.
Next up, the singer’s motorbike was auctioned off with a $37,500 starting bid. The bike went for $85,000.
The laughs kept coming from there, with Robin Williams closing the night in his trademark style.
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