Laughs abound at Comedy Fest event

Stephen Colbert, Bruce Springsteen entertain at benefit

NEW YORK -- Laughs for a serious cause filled the air Wednesday night as the New York Comedy Festival and the Bob Woodruff Foundation presented this year's edition of "Stand Up for Heroes," which has become an annual fixture at the festival.

Hosted by NBC News anchor Brian Williams, the event at midtown Manhattan's Town Hall featured surprise guest Elvis Costello as well as performances by Louis C.K., Stephen Colbert (in camouflage suit), Lisa Lampanelli and Bruce Springsteen. Video messages from Jon Stewart, first lady Michelle Obama and President George H.W. Bush rounded out the program.

Lee and Bob Woodruff kicked off the event in style as the former thanked sponsors and others by comparing the night to a mullet: "We are business in the front, party in the back."

She also welcomed the uniformed men in the audience, before looking at her husband and deadpanning that if he wore one, "you'd have more game with me." Replied her husband: "Next Halloween."

Bob Woodruff spent five weeks in a coma after sustaining injuries while reporting for ABC News from Iraq.

Following an inspirational video about the foundation's work, Stewart added a video thought for those not willing to donate now: "You may be made of wood!"

Lee Woodruff introduced the show's host with the words: "You might think of him as an uptight white guy reading the news," but he is also very funny, she said.

Williams walked onstage with a laptop and opened his monologue with the words: "Yankees 2, Phillies nothing." There was loud applause from the New York crowd missing Game 6 of the World Series.

He quipped that he wanted to be a full-service provider onstage and offer sports and weather updates in addition to covering the news. Williams also shared jokes about military food and being from New Jersey.

Springsteen threw in a few jokes, including one about Pepsi having created a drink that includes Viagra and that is called "MountAndDo."

One of his guitars and four Madison Square Garden tickets were then auctioned off by auctioneer Jamie Niven, the son of actor David Niven, for $50,000. "Law & Order: SVU" star Mariska Hargitay walked away with the goods to much applause.

Louis C.K. had the audience in stitches with edgy material about divorced life and his kids.

Colbert offered some topical humor, talking about his experience visiting the troops in Iraq, which he described as hot and dangerous, "like Texas with fewer guns." He also described a former Saddam Hussein palace as mindful of a house decorated by "The Real Housewives of New Jersey."

"Give it up for Tom Brokaw," Lampanelli said when Williams brought her onstage to kick off the finale.

Last year, Regis Philbin hosted the Woodruff Foundation benefit, and Conan O'Brien led the show in 2007.

All proceeds from the event go to the Bob Woodruff Foundation.

Co-chairs for the event included such industry executives as CNN's Jon Klein, CBS' Sean McManus, ABC's Anne Sweeney and David Westin, HBO's Richard Plepler and NBC Universal's Jeff Zucker.