By Jeff Labrecque
Updated November 11, 2015 at 01:45 PM EST
Credit: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

There were a bunch of clowns on a stage on Tuesday night, jabbering about politics. No, not the GOP debate in Milwaukee. It was the 9th annual Stand Up for Hereos event in New York, sponsored by the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the New York Comedy Festival. Jon Stewart, an old-school Catskills comic named Bruce Springsteen, Seth Meyers, John Oliver, and Ray Romano honored the guests — vets who’ve rallied back from significant battlefield injuries — but the conversation repeatedly drifted towards current events and the 2016 election.

It was almost like Stewart never left The Daily Show – if you look past the bushy beard and slightly underdressed attire. As soon as he finished with some self-deprecating schtick about his appearance, he tore into the Republican field, starting with Donald Trump.

“When I was doing the program, we liked to make jokes about him, because he’s hilarious and easily mockable,” said Stewart. “We would mock him with things such as, ‘He looks like a bewigged boiled ham,’ or something like that. So he would tweet in the middle of the night, ‘Jon Stewart’s real name is Leibowitz. He’s a Jew. Why does he run away from his heritage?’ You know, because that’s what I think most presidents would do. I remember Lincoln used to drunk tweet: ‘Hey, emancipate this, you f—!'”

Actually, it was Meyers who got the ball rolling, taking great delight in shellacking the former Apprentice host again, four years after he humiliated him to his face at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner. “My favorite thing about thinking about these GOP debates is thinking about campaigns preparing their candidates for going on stage with Donald Trump, because I imagine it’s the same way park rangers prepare campers for the possibility that they might see a bear,” said Meyers. “I guess he’s not really a bear; he’s more like an insane chimpanzee. ‘So you’re going to go out on stage, there’s going to be eight of you: seven regular candidates and a chimpanzee.’ ‘I’m sorry, did you say chimpanzee?’ ‘We did, don’t worry about that. You’ll have two minutes for an opening statement. You can talk for a bit after each question. Also, the chimpanzee will have a handgun duct-taped to himself and he’s addicted to crack.’ ‘I don’t think I want to be on stage with a chimpanzee that’s on crack.’ ‘Oh, he’s not on crack. He’s addicted to crack. We haven’t given him crack for weeks. And he’s in a terrible mood about it.'”

Trump absorbed the brunt of it, but Stewart didn’t discriminate. He clearly is paying attention to the presidential campaigns during his sabbatical. He credited Dr. Ben Carson with “the greatest juxtaposition between volume of voice and craziness of sh– he says.” He said Hillary Clinton won’t be denied, and is the one candidate you would not want to fight: “You would think you won, and then 3 a.m. you’d be lying in bed and she would drag her bloody stump up the side of the building and you’d be sleeping, and she would grab a rock and [yell], ‘It’s not over, punk!'”

And he never quite took Vice President Joe Biden seriously as a stealth candidate. “Have you watched him during the State of the Union?” Stewart asked. “It’s like watching a guy work a sales convention. The president is talking and the vice president is behind him like this: ‘Hey, boom,’ ‘Hey, sugart-ts.’ ‘Oh, hey, what’s happening?’ ‘What’s going down?’ ‘Nice to see you.’ ‘What’s up, governor?’ ‘Boom.’

“I’m done with this sh–,” he insisted after his final rant. “Done, done, done.”

As if. Glad to see him hit 95 on the gun after two months off the grid.

Romano had a killer set, which combined some of his best jokes about married life, masturbation, and making new friends. Like Stewart, he wore a shaggy beard and threw some barbs at Trump. “Here’s the thing, folks,” he began innocently enough. “When you have a TV show… and you will. Everyone’s going to get one. You’re all going to get a show. It’s going to be like jury duty. When President Trump gets elected, he’s going to make a law: you have to have a show.”

Oliver talked all about Australia, and cited a recent political study from Down Under that concluded that drunk voting — yes, that’s voting while inebriated — brings out one’s inner Goldwater. “I did not see that coming,” he said. “That’s against your popular understanding of the drunk man: ‘I love you! I bloody love you!… But I cannot justify continued expenditure on the welfare state! You’re living in a dream world! It’s a lovely idea in theory, but it doesn’t work! People need incentives.'”

Springsteen, who performed several solo songs with his guitar, steered clear of politics with his remarks. Instead, he revived some reliable dirty jokes about Dick Van Dyke, a plus-sized prostitute named Hurricane Hattie, and a voodoo penis. (For better or worse, those are three different Borscht-belt gags, and not one splendid super joke.) Fortunately, Springsteen can fall back on his day job, and the well-to-do crowd appreciated his stripped-down versions of “For You,” “Darlington County,” “Working on the Highway,” and “Dancing in the Dark.”

When it was time to auction off his guitar and a growing laundry list of perks and special treats — including his mother’s lasagna — the bidding soared to $370,000. When the runner-up bidder was crestfallen, it was decided that both bidders would win, doubling the financial gift to the veterans group to $740,000. Just imagine how high the bidding would’ve gone if Chris Christie had been in the room?