From the desk of John Hanson, SVP of Communications for the USO:
The meanest man in show business is the nicest guy I know.
Jeff Ross, the Roastmaster General, insult comic extraordinaire (but not such a great dancer it turns out) is a consistent and sincere supporter of U.S. troops through his work with the USO.
A month or so ago, we needed someone to perform at Caroline’s Comedy Club in New York during fleet week. A sponsor was going to take care of the club and open it to sailors and Marines in town for the annual invasion of the City. Jeff agreed to give us his time for this cause.
The sponsor backed out (bad, bad sponsor). Caroline’s agreed to keep the venue available. Comedy Central kicked in with us, and the show went on. Jeff agreed to go forward with this gig, despite the booking of the Craig Ferguson Show later in the week. Other performers might have begged off doing something few people would hear about, and we couldn’t blame them.
Ross is a wonderful person.
Jeffrey Ross, comedian, entertains the troops at an USO show on Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan on August 19, 2005. (U.S. Army photo by SPC Joshua Balog)
During his first USO tour to Iraq, his hotel was rocketed. His response? “I’m not paying for THAT!” He made a documentary of that tour – PATRIOT ACT. It’s not only “the funniest movie ever to come out of Iraq,” but it’s also the best view of what our performers see while on a tour to a war zone. Buy it. Rent it. Steal it from someone you love, but watch it. Not great for the kiddies, but it won’t kill you.
After Hurricane Katrina, the military was called on to protect the Gulf Coast region. General Russell Honore called us and said, “These guys need a show.” Our call to Jeff reached him as he was crossing a street in Los Angeles. “I’m there,” he told us.
He was part of General Richard Myers final tour, before retiring as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. That one circled the globe.
Wounded warriors are routinely invited to Jeff’s shows. He doesn’t make a big deal of it, but it’s important to him to reach out and give back.
Sure, he can be mean – in the sweetest sort of way, of course – but his heart’s as big as anything, and I’m so proud that he continues to honor his commitment to the men and women who volunteer to serve us and sacrifice for us.
He’s more than a stand-up comic. He’s a stand-up man.
If he comes to your town, catch his act. Then thank him.
Check out Jeff Ross’s appearance on Craig Ferguson’s Late Late Show last week. Remember: the opinions expressed in the video are solely those of Ross and Ferguson. Ha.