The New York Comedy Festival has arrived. The festival turns eight this year, and will hopefully celebrate with humor children of that age can’t understand. While always a showcase for chuckles, the first day of the festival has a higher purpose: supporting injured soldiers through the Bob Woodruff Foundation.
The event, Stand Up for Heroes, kicks off the comedy festival at the Beacon Theater tonight. The show, which will feature performances by Ricky Gervais, Jon Stewart, and The Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen (who does it every year), benefits injured veterans.
Stand Up for Heroes has raised more than 10 million dollars for wounded soldiers since it started, and comedians like Robin Williams, Joel McHale, and Brian Williams have all made appearances. Caroline Hirsh, owner of Caroline’s on Broadway and the founder of the New York Comedy Festival, said, “We’re so lucky that we have so much talent that comes out for this event.”
The party is the brainchild of Hirsh and Bob and Lee Woodruff, of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. Said Caroline, “I got together with Bob Woodruff because I saw the documentary on his struggle with injury on ABC. I always felt so horrible for those men who came home hurt and with brain injuries. I wanted to do something for them, and then I ended up meeting Lee Woodruff and it turned out that he wanted to do a fundraiser as well. We met in April and had the first event planned by November, and the first year we raised over three million dollars.”
Caroline has even higher hopes for this year. “It’s a great event,” she says. “It’s such a high when we’re there. Ricky Gervais and Jon Stewart will be there, and they’re both so funny… Jon Stewart is quiet about what he does, but he’s very supportive of the troops.”
Watch Jon Stewart discuss the event in this video from 2009.
The festival does offer some less than do-goodery options. Louis C.K. will tell vaguely depressing and highly hilarious jokes about his family and sex life, Tracy Morgan will hopefully not say anything homophobic, and Kathy Griffin will probably talk about how hot her bikini body is. Remember, comedy is truth. Comedy is pain. And comedy is hopefully funny.