Military service members were the guests of honor at the 9th annual Stand Up for Heroes benefit concert. The jokes, told by Jon Stewart and Seth Meyers among others, covered marriage, Las Vegas, sports, and, inevitably, Donald Trump.
And Bruce Springsteen was in a silly mood.
Held Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, Stand Up for Heroes was co-presented by the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the New York Comedy Festival. It 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.
With members of the Army, Navy and Marines occupying the front rows, the comedians seemed to go out of their way to cast themselves as incapable of winning at arm wrestling, much less fighting in a war.
Stewart and Ray Romano each had grown beards. Each joked about getting old.
"Here's what life has taught me, now that I'm in my 50s," said the 57-year-old Romano. "I will make the time to be your friend — if you're a doctor."
"I can't believe it: Jon Stewart's grandfather is here!" said the grey-bearded Stewart.
Meyers also was the butt of his own jokes. As a husband, he said, he was too clueless to help plan his own wedding or to realize his wife-to-be had food poisoning. He also remembered being foolish — and drunk enough — to pick a fight with a stronger man at a Las Vegas night club.
"I had reached an age in my life where I thought I was no longer going to be punched," he said. "Because of that there was no contingency plan in my brain as to what we were going to do if we got punched."
Tuesday's Republican debate was a recurring topic. Stewart seemed amazed, and not in a good way, that three months had passed since he left "The Daily Show" and Trump was still a top contender. At the Heroes show, he showed off the luxury of having three months worth of insults ready.
"Are we really doing this Trump thing?" he asked. "We liked to make jokes about him (on 'The Daily Show"), because he's hilarious. He's mockable, extraordinarily mockable, hugely mockable."
Springsteen played four songs, all acoustic, including three from his "Born in the U.S.A." album: "Darlington County," ''Working on the Highway" and the hit single "Dancing in the Dark," which had the crowd clapping and singing along.
He also brought in a windfall for the foundation. Continuing a tradition at the Stand Up for Heroes shows, he auctioned off some personal items. Tuesday night's grab bag was a pair of autographed guitars, plus concert tickets and his mother's lasagna. The two winning bids totaled $740,000, topping last year's take of $300,000.
The supposedly serious guy in the bunch, Springsteen, got some of the biggest laughs. Before each of his songs, he told X-rated stories so sweetly and without embarrassment that he made sex jokes sound like "Goodnight Moon."
The stories are unrepeatable, but here is one punchline: "Dick Van Dyke."