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The Insider: Hardy-Har-Rx for Heroes

Nov 11, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Last Wednesday night, Conan O’Brien emceed and wickedly cast a mock political movie.
Bruce Springsteen did three acoustic numbers and delivered his own Harley to the stage for auction. In the spirit of the evening, themed “Stand Up for Heroes” and presented by the New York Comedy Festival to raise money for the Bob Woodruff Family Fund, he even gamely (and sweetly lamely) did an old knock-knock joke.
Lewis Black spake (and spat) profane truths about Christmas sprawl. Robin Williams was Ra-ha-ha-ha-bin Williams.
Brian Regan, an O’Brien fave, made a good and lasting first impression on an audience full of entertainment and news stars and media corner-office holders, most of whom had contributed to some aspect of the evening.
And Lee Woodruff proved she could be as funny as any of them as she and Comedy Central’s Steven Colbert traded heckles—“I occasionally take jokes too far,” said the faux newscaster, whose plan to run for president in South Carolina was squooshed flatter than a hoecake by a humorless judge. She talked about the healing power of humor—she and her husband, ABC newsman Bob Woodruff, had experienced it during his grueling recovery from brain and other injuries he incurred from a roadside bomb blast near Iraq in January 2006.
The Bob Woodruff Family Fund was formed by the Woodruff family to work with private and public entities to improve awareness, diagnosis and treatment of and support for injured service members—a number of whom were present in those cinematic Marine dress uniforms that only briefly attract attention away from the lost limbs or use of limbs, the patchwork burn scars and the evidence of traumatic brain injury.
If anyone had earned the pleasure of a laugh, they and their loved ones certainly had.
What they and the rest of the audience got was a smorgasbord of comedy that was often topical, political and pointed, but not partisan.
Mr. O’Brien even tossed in a couple of jokes about the writers strike and got laughs from the right, left and center of the crowd by pretending to cast a docudrama about politics today. Highlights: Martin Short as House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Dame Judi Dench as Newt Gingrich, “any TV weatherman” as Mitt Romney, NBA legend Scottie Pippen as Osama Bin Laden, Snoop Dogg as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and killer doll Chucky as Hillary Clinton. The Insider kids you not: It was dead-on casting.
During a set that included “Thunder Road,” Mr. Springsteen had total control over the rapt audience, even if he was telling a so-bad-it’s-funny joke: Doctor tells patient he’s got to stop masturbating. Patient asks, “Why?” “Because I’m trying to examine you.”
When Mr. Springsteen walked his early ’90s Harley out on the stage letter for auction, it was a near-rapture experience as he kickstarted the full-throated motor. Super-lawyer David Boies dropped out of the bidding midway to the winning price: $85,000.
Everything else on an impressive list of goods and experiences—a private shopping party at Tory Burch, meet-and-greets with “the most popular anchors in TV news” and with Oprah Winfrey—was being auctioned online (at charityfolks.com/woodruff). A spokeswoman for the event said Thursday $2.5 million had been raised.
Lewis Black ranted about how Christmas now starts at Halloween—“How long does it take you people to shop?”—and the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza creates a New York pedestrian nightmare. ”Put it out in Queens,” he suggested.
Robin Williams closed the night with a trademark comic carpet ride (With a white woman and a black man in the running for president, he said, “Many Southerners would say, ‘I’ll have a beer.’”) that ended with a gentle declaration: “I just want to get everybody home one day.”

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