For the 9th year in a row, ABC’s Bob Woodruff, his wife Lee, and Caroline Hirsch and Andrew Fox raised money for vets and honored them at “Stand Up for Heroes.”
Superstar trumpeteer Chris Botti performed the national anthem before ABC’s Woodruff and his activist wife Lee introduced the special evening with Bob recounting his allegiance with many of the soldiers seated in the first rows of Madison Square Garden Theater.
In 2006, while embedded with American troops in Iraq, he suffered traumatic brain injury and was in a coma for 36 days after a roadside bomb exploded. He and wife Lee were inspired during Bob’s long recovery to help fellow wounded warriors.
As usual, Hirsch and Fox brought the A list of comedians. Seth Myers said he was grateful to be there for the evening, otherwise he’d be watching the Republicans debate each other again. A bearded Ray Romano was also on the bill. He joked — in front of these heroes– that perhaps his most heroic act was killing a spider who had witnessed him masturbating. Jon Stewart, bearded as well, told a story about a man masturbating on his stoop after 9/11. He took it as a sign of hope. This is what happens when you retire from your long-standing television gig: facial hair and manual manipulation. The comedy line up, always first rate, did not disappoint.
In what has become a tradition for this night of comedy is Bruce Springsteen sprinkling his performance of such hits as “For You” and “Dancing in the Dark” with jokes, often off color, like the one about the man who goes to a whorehouse looking for something he’s never had before. The door opens and a woman blows in, the winds of Hurricane Hattie. Then she pees on him, the rains of Hurricane Hattie. As he rushes out of there, the madam asks what’s wrong: I couldn’t stand the weather, he says.
Springsteen traditionally auctions off his guitars at Stand Up for Heroes, and this year he added a Harley Davidson motorcycle. He wound raising $740,000 in total. When the Harley Davidson was auctioned off, the four comedians threw in some bonuses including Bruce’s vintage leather jacket, Ray’s bottle of Purell, Seth’s necktie, Bruce’s mother’s lasagna, a round trip to Las Vegas for Ray Romano’s performance at the Mirage. Lorraine Bracco, from the audience, threw in high heels she wore in Goodfellas. Jon Stewart did an imitation of Henry Hill protesting, Those heels are expensive.
Always an event with heart, this year’s Stand Up for Heroes was no exception. Sgt. Kirstie Innis spoke about her helicopter going down in Afghanistan, her jaw and other parts of her body broken. After multiple surgeries, she has become a champion snowboarder, and now faces a leg amputation. Looking glamorous in a red gown, she stopped to speak on her way out of Madison Square Garden. When I tell her she looks great and note her enormous courage, she replies, she’s had great doctors. And then she gave me a big hug.