The Daily Show with Jon Stewart‘s Jon Stewart joined Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, along with NBA star Karl Malone and magician David Blaine for Mullen’s quick, unannounced weekend visit to the American soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
What did you do last weekend?
Pictured above by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley, Stewart met with Army Sgt. Jason Gregg, left, and Staff Sgt. Matthew Buschagen, right, at Tarin Kowt Hospital in Afghanistan on Saturday. Mullen presented Gregg and Buschagen with the Purple Heart for injuries sustained during action.
And here Stewart is pictured with Sgt. 1st Class Benari Poulten from the U.S. Army Reserves, who when he’s not serving our country in the public affairs office, is pursuing his own comedy career in New York City. Poulten recently began a yearlong tour in Afghanistan. Fun coincidence: Poulten’s previous tour in Iraq happened when Stephen Colbert visited Baghdad to film a week’s worth of The Colbert Report for Comedy Central. Poulten shared with The Comic’s Comic some details about Stewart’s visit this past weekend, as well as some B-roll footage he shot for the U.S. Army.
So, USO put together a quick “Summer Troop Visit” tour with Karl Malone, David Blaine and Jon Stewart. They traveled to a bunch of bases in Afghanistan just to shake hands and take pictures, meet some troops, raise morale. And because Afghanistan is apparently “dangerous” … they couldn’t give more than 48 hours notice. As soon as I heard about it, I went over to the USO to confirm (and naturally, to offer my unit’s Public Affairs support) and by the time I got back to my office, one of my friends over at the TDS emailed me to let me know he was coming and to see if I was helping coordinate. I passed on some helpful info about KAF – I figured, it’s always nice for a comic to be able to slip in a few local, regional jokes…even if the place is Kandahar.
It was pretty cool, actually. Apparently, my friend told him to look for me because when I went over to introduce myself at the Kandahar USO, he was like, “Benari!” So, immediately, he raised ONE troop’s morale. Then we talked a bit about being Jews in Afghanistan. And rocket attacks. I did mention that when Colbert came to Iraq, he put on FOUR full shows. But Jon was quick to point out that Stephen got to bring his staff, so we concluded that Jon was probably a little bit more badass because he came to the combat zone solo. Also, he updated the status on the USO Kandahar Facebook page, which was apparently the first and only time he’s ever actually used Facebook.
They were only there for about an hour, they had to take off for another part of the country. But all three of them were terrific, very supportive and friendly – I thought it was particularly remarkable that Jon was here, since he had JUST finished taping TDS, got on a plane to meet with the troops and then will be back at work on Monday. Such a mensch!
Here’s that B-roll footage. Roll it!
UPDATED: By Monday night, Jon Stewart was back in New York City taping another episode of The Daily Show, and in this segment, he honored the troops by wearing several T-shirts and giving multiple shout-outs (the first of whom was to Poulten, aka on Tumblr as G.I. Jew!). Roll the clip!