(Which is different than "I saw Iraq. I came." Which did not happen. Because, like I said -- that place is a s**t-hole.)
So I went to Iraq to visit the troops, and it was absolutely one of the most incredible experiences of my life. But it almost didn't happen. I had to do a lot of begging to be allowed to go. The army kept saying, "Yes, you can go," and then they'd call and say "You can't go because it's too dangerous." Then they'd say, "You can't go to Iraq, but you can perform for the troops stationed in Germany or Djibouti." And I was like: Screw that!
First of all, anybody can go visit the troops in Germany. It's easier to do that than it is to get tickets to the World Cup. And, as for Djibouti, I am not going someplace that I can't spell. No offense, Djibouti. In fact, I think Djibouti would be a good place for Angelina Jolie to have her next kid. But for me, it was Iraq or nothing. Fortunately, it all worked out.
Although I didn't even really know I was going until just a couple days before. Then I had to deal with the people at Bravo who didn't want to pay for insurance for me. They basically ended up getting me this insurance that was worse than an HMO plan. It was like, we'll insure you if you're killed, but if you almost die, you're on your own. I think I would have had better coverage if I was an insurgent. I looked at their policy, and it's very thorough.
HURRY UP AND KUWAIT
So I get to Kuwait, and even though I've been traveling for about 147 hours, we don't even have time to nap or shower -- or order Kuwaiti pay-per-view movies in the hotel -- because we had to go to the base to get ready for the show.
And by "get ready for" I mean "beg people to come to." We literally went door-to-door like Amway sales people to tell everyone about the show. Basically, we bothered the Army. And it's not like it's a small base. That place is huge. It's got a Pizza Hut AND a McDonald's. It's just one giant Halliburton playground.
Okay, first of all, I'm really grateful to Keri Turner and Michael McDonald for coming to entertain the troops with me, but I have to say, I'm still really bitter that Stuart killed and I didn't. I just can't believe that the armed forces care more about a seven-year-old character than my seven-year-old Nicole Kidman jokes. And he just did the voice -- he didn't even have the rouge or the wig!
But that didn't bother these army people one bit. The whole time we were there, people would pass Michael and me, and scream, "HEY LOOK IT'S STEWART!... and the girl from News Radio." But besides the lack of recognition, the hardest part about performing for the troops was that I just had no idea what to expect. And I'm not just talking about the fact that they weren't up-to-date on pop culture. We also found out that the soldiers didn't like to make fun of their superiors as much as we thought they would. So great -- no pop culture and no making fun of people... there goes 90% of my act. Which is why I decided early on to rely on the other 10% -- swearing like a truck driver. The army put a lot of language restrictions on me, but I said f**k 'em. These soldiers have seen real bombs -- I doubt they're gonna get offended if I drop a few F-bombs.
But the truth is, the entire time I was over there, I was getting material. The second the plane landed, it was like, "Hey look at that crappy food" and "Whoa, who the hell are those crazy looking people?" And that's material. And I knew that the more time I spent there, the more material I'd get. And the more comfortable I got with the troops, the more I'd figure out how far I could push the envelope with them.
I have to say, the thing I loved most about performing for the soldiers was that they are so much cooler about making fun of themselves than celebrities. Everyone in Hollywood takes themself so seriously, and they get all worked up if you make fun of them. The troops get bummed out if you DON'T make fun of them. And you don't want to bum out soldiers. They have guns.
SLEEPOVER AT SADDAM'S
I have to say that Saddam's palace was less than fantastic. I mean sure, it was a great place to stay, and it had running water -- which is a hot commodity over there -- but the whole time you keep saying to yourself, "I can't believe I'm in Saddam's goddamn palace!" And then you feel bad for saying "Goddamn" while Allah is staring at you. But you get used to it.
The army is really into maintaining Saddam's palace -- they haven't even redecorated it, and it's still got all this totally tacky stuff everywhere, like Sears and Roebuck bedding and a dining table for 30, and gold desks with these super fancy knobs, and the army hasn't removed a thing. (I did though -- Just a few towels. It's a bad habit. I'm working on it.)
And yeah, there was a rocket attack the night I was at the palace, and yeah, I did think it was just a door slamming... but that hasn't stopped me from being overly proud and frequently using the phrase, "I survived my first rocket attack." I definitely think I should get some sort of certificate to acknowledge my bravery. Or at least a Purple Heart. I'm going to have Jessica call the army to make sure that happens. Or maybe she can just text them...
ON A SERIOUS NOTE... ...I just want to talk for one second about Sgt. Adkins, the wounded soldier I met in Tikrit who had just survived a mortar attack that took the life of his fiance. Meeting Sgt. Adkins was something that I will never, ever forget. I think about him every day, and wonder how he's doing, and if he returned to duty, and I just want him to be safe and to know that there are lots and lots of people in America who are grateful for the sacrifice he's making on behalf of this country.
Look people, I know this wasn't the funniest episode of the show that's ever aired, but I am so proud of it, and I hope that you enjoyed it even though it's not a laugh-a-minute. Although I guess I should be honest with you all about the real reason I went to Iraq -- I just wanted something to throw around the next time I see Anderson Cooper at a dinner party. I've never been to a dinner party with Andy Cooper. I'm not in the same circles as Andy Cooper. But I will do anything to impress him, and maybe the fact that I went on this trip will actually get me invited to an Andy Cooper party. If not -- I move onto Amanpour.