Comedian Jon Stewart, other celebs entertain troops on Korean Peninsula

Comedian Jon Stewart relays an audience question during a USO show at Osan Air Base, South Korea, Monday, April 23, 2018.


By MARCUS FICHTL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 24, 2018

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Comedian Jon Stewart and a host of other celebrities that included a country music singer and a TV chef entertained troops Monday evening at the home of the 51st Fighter Wing.

Servicemembers packed Osan’s Enlisted Club for the USO show, which kicked off with a monologue by Stewart followed by a one-on-one basketball lesson from former Detroit Piston Richard “Rip” Hamilton.

Things shifted into high gear when chef Robert Irvine challenged anyone in the audience to knock out 100 pushups before he could grill a steak. Irvine easily won, and later gave Stars and Stripes some tips on how to beat him.

“We think about pushups as being a staple of all our military training, but what we tend to do as macho men, we go crazy … that’s not the way to do it,” he said.

The master chef’s pushups tip: slow down and do them in sets of 10.

“If you do it smartly you can beat me — but I don’t think you’re going to,” Irvine said.

The British Royal Navy veteran, who is participating in his 12th USO tour, said the entertainers are in Korea for more than just laughs.

“Forty-five miles away from here is a guy we’re not sure what he’s going to do next and [South] Korea’s the frontline for that,” he said.

“Our job as entertainers is to make sure that the American public know what [servicemembers] do every day,” he added. “We can’t do enough for those who wear the cloth of our nation, and not forgetting the families that support them while they are deployed.”

Sgt. 1st Class Celina Flores, who serves with Eighth Army at nearby Camp Humphreys, hoped to get Irvine’s autograph on a jug.

“I’m in love with the Food Network channel and I watch all his shows,” said the 31-year-old from Stockton Calif. “I really wanted to try the steak — it got the place smelling so good.”

Another highlight of the show involved MMA fighters Paige VanZant and Max Holloway showing off takedown techniques using audience members as guinea pigs.

VanZant, once a contestant on ABC’s “Dancing with Stars,” then demonstrated a different kind of takedown by winning a dance-off with a local airman.

The nearly two-hour show ended with country singer Craig Morgan, who was once stationed on the Peninsula as a soldier, singing “America the Beautiful” with the other celebs. Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined them on stage.

1st Lt. Elizabeth Eastman, 26, of Hollywood, Md., gave her unit patch to Stewart after the show.

Did she get a Comedy Central “Daily Show” patch in return?

“Unfortunately, no, but I got his autograph,” said the A-10 pilot with Osan’s 25th Fighter Squadron.

The show’s tour began Sunday at Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo and heads next to Djibouti near the horn of Africa before moving on to the Middle East and Europe.

Twitter: @MarcusFichtl

Former Detroit Pistons basketball player Richard "Rip" Hamilton talks about playing against Kobe Bryant, during a USO show at Osan Air Base, South Korea, Monday, April 23, 2018.