NEW YORK (AP) – Some top comedians – including John Oliver, Jon Stewart, Trevor Noah and Conan O’Brien – helped raise money for military veterans Tuesday night at a raucous event at Madison Square Garden in which many of the best barbs were hurled at the current commander in chief.
“It’s a strange time to be in love with America right now. Some would offer you are not at your finest. Falling in love with America right now is like falling in love with a girl who’s throwing up all over herself,” Oliver said. “You hold her hair back and say, ‘Let it all out. You just made a mistake, that’s all.’”
The annual Stand Up for Heroes event is co-presented by the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the New York Comedy Festival. It kicks off the festival and raises money for the Woodruff foundation, which funds programs for injured veterans and their families. The foundation is named for the ABC news anchor injured in Iraq in 2006 and has raised some $40 million.
The front rows of the theater at Madison Square Garden were reserved for veterans from all branches – some badly injured – and seats were also set aside for new cadets. While Lee Woodruff, Bob’s wife, pleaded for everyone to “set aside politics,” there wasn’t much love lost onstage for President Donald Trump. The audience mostly took it in stride.
Stewart marveled at the fact that 10-15 percent of Barack Obama supporters voted for Trump. “How do you even get there?” he asked. “It’s like a guy who’s like, ‘It didn’t work out with my girlfriend so now I’m going out with a toaster.’”
Noah admitted he was conflicted. “On the one hand, I do wake up terrified most days that he’s president of the most powerful nation in the world. But, on the other hand, I must admit I wake up every day knowing he’s going to make me laugh.” O’Brien compared Trump to the backside of an orange cat.
The comedians didn’t spend all their time bashing Trump. On a rainy night in New York, O’Brien also mocked Los Angeles residents who can’t handle drizzle, Oliver told an embarrassing story of when he ran a race in school and Noah said he hoped never to die in a drive-by. “I want you to park. Is that too much to ask?”
Two other comedians avoided Trump entirely. Hasan Minhaj did a bit on Disney princesses and John Mulaney had fun with grade school assemblies and the fact that machines now try to make sure we humans aren’t robots online.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers played an electric set that included the songs “Can’t Stop,” ″Dark Necessities,” ″Snow (Hey Oh),” ″By the Way” and “Hey.” Leslie Odom Jr. of “Hamilton” fame, sang the national anthem.