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Al Roker, Jay Leno kick off USO comedy tour in Afghanistan

Al Roker, Jay Leno, Craig Robinson, Iliza Shlesinger and Kevin Eubanks are in Afghanistan Wednesday, gearing up to perform for more than 1,000 troops as part of the TODAY USO Comedy Tour.

Al, who will be emceeing the comedy show, teamed up with the United Service Organizations (USO) to organize the event as part of TODAY’s Shine a Light series, a campaign to support worthy causes throughout the year. It’s Al’s desire to shine a light on our military troops and their sacrifice on behalf of the country, while also supporting the USO and its efforts to help servicemen and women, as well as their families.

“We can never repay them for what they do,” Al said about our military personnel. “However, the USO brings a little bit of home to our troops wherever they are.”

Leno, who is headlining the tour, has visited the troops in the past through USO comedy shows, and couldn't wait to return overseas. 

"It is an honor to be here. The guys are really fun, and we’ve had a great time," Leno said Wednesday. "The morale here is great, the soldiers are great. It’s really been terrific."

Al and Leno had troops show off their non-military skills in what Al called the TODAY version of “Afghanistan’s Got Talent.” Servicemen took turns playing kazoo, doing Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonations and beatboxing – and everyone got rewarded with a camouflage cap featuring what Leno called "the TODAY show target."

“This day-glow emblem will light up so the enemy will see you at night,” he quipped. 

Prior to the first performance, Al spoke with several servicemen who were serving alongside family members. Senior Airman Dylan Johnson, who was deployed to Afghanistan along with both parents, joked about the benefits of having his mom nearby.

“She makes me lunch all the time,” he said of Master Sgt. Melanie Johnson, who was standing next to him.

But his father, Senior Master Sgt. Henry Johnson, said being deployed with family definitely changes his perspective in the field. “In the past, all I had to worry about was just myself. Now I have to worry about Dylan and Melanie,” he said. 

To join Al in his mission to support the troops, visit his fundraising page at Crowdrise.com/AlRoker, where proceeds will go to support the USO and its programs for our troops and their families. 

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