Gen. Ray Odierno gives Stephen Colbert a haircut during Colbert’s performance for U.S. military personnel June 7, 2009, in Baghdad. USO Photo by Steve Manuel
It was a big two days for USO entertainers, who brought home a total of six Primetime Emmy Awards and two MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday and Monday.
Stephen Colbert — whose “The Colbert Report” took home Emmys for Outstanding Variety Series and Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series — went on a high-profile USO tour to Iraq in 2009. Colbert’s mentor Jon Stewart‘s “The Daily Show” also won an Emmy for Outstanding Picture Editing for Short-Form Segments and Variety Specials. Stewart went downrange for the USO in the summer of 2011. And last year, former interim “The Daily Show” host John Oliver and a trio of show writers and producers visited troops in Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Comedians Jimmy Fallon and Louis C.K. also took home awards. Fallon — who emceed the USO-coordinated Fourth of July concert at the White House in 2009 — won Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for hosting “Saturday Night Live.” Louis C.K. garnered Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series honors for “Louie.” He has gone on two USO tours — including a 13-base trip to Afghanistan in 2008 — and even worked the USO into an episode of his hit FX show.
“The Big Bang Theory” won Outstanding Multi-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series. Actors from the show went on a USO tour to meet troops in the Pacific in 2012.
Katy Perry salutes service members before performing “Firework” at the “VH1 Divas Salute The Troops” show in 2010. Courtesy photo
Meanwhile, Katy Perry took home Best Female Video at Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards for “Dark Horse.” Haley Williams – lead singer of Paramore – also took home a VMA, winning the MTV Clubland Award for her EDM collaboration with Zedd on “Stay the Night.” Both women were part of the 2010 “VH1 Divas Salute the Troops” show presented by the USO. Paramore did their portion of that show from Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, as part of a USO entertainment tour.
Pulled from the USO archives, here’s legendary comedian Robin Williams’ 2008 take on what it’s like to go on a USO tour.
On Monday, nine famous men – four in heavy makeup – said they’re taking their guitars on the road to support the troops.
Paul Stanley of KISS talks to troops in Virginia Beach, Va., in 2010. Photo courtesy of the Navy
Kiss and Def Leppard announced their Heroes Tour during a press event at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. The tour – which starts June 23 in Utah – will cover more than 40 dates coast-to-coast. A dollar from each ticket sold will be split among multiple military support organizations, including the USO.
Troops who want to check out the show should visit kissonline.com/heroes for discount details.
KISS – which will be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next month – is no stranger to supporting the military. In 2011, the USO’s Joseph Andrew Lee talked to guitarist Paul Stanley about the band’s support for wounded warriors.
Back in Black … er, camo. Comedian Lewis Black gets ready to fly to another forward operating base during a 2008 USO entertainment tour. USO photo by Dave Gatley
Spring is fast approaching. That also means USO entertainment tours are gearing up across the world.
A trio of NFL stars just visited bases in the Middle East. The Band Perry is slated to preform for troops Monday in England at and the Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families is set to launch another year of touring on April 4.
Earlier this week, Politico highlighted two comedians – Roy Wood Jr. and Lewis Black – who’ve taken the USO stage to bring laughs to troops.
“You’re not getting the same kind of sense of self-worth when you get off the stage in Iowa on a Thursday night as you did entertaining a bunch of men and women who just want a slice of home,” Wood said.
Wood – a regular on TBS’ “Sullivan & Son” – wrapped a USO tour to Guam and the Philippines earlier this month.
The Politico story also quoted Black. The legendary stand-up comedian and frequent contributor to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has been on three USO tours.
“You go to perform for the troops it’s what it must have been like performing at Woodstock,” Black said. “It’s extraordinary. … The amount of energy that you get on the stage is like nothing — I don’t know what else to compare it to. It’s like an adrenaline rush. They’re so thrilled that you are there. .. It was one of the most extraordinary times in my life.”
You can read the full Politico story on USO tours here.
Seven cartoonists went halfway around the globe to meet America’s troops. And they penned some notes of appreciation while they were at it.
The USO cartoonists tour to Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan – with quick stops in Turkey and Germany – wrapped recently. Those National Cartoonist Society Members also joined the USO Love Notes campaign, writing messages of support to American service members. Among those who made the trek: “Lola” creator Todd Clark, editorial cartoonists Paul Combs and Tom Stiglich, “Punderstatements” creator Bruce Higdon, “In the Bleachers and “Open Season” creator Steve Moore and MAD Magazine contributors Ed Steckley and Sam Viviano.
Coincidentally, the tour marked the last USO entertainment foray into Kyrgyzstan, where significant U.S. operations are winding down.