Comics bring laughter to service members
By Pfc. Leah R. Burton
28th Public Affairs Detachment
LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq — With everything from tourist advice to personal insight on how to end road rage, five comedians, who performed at the Sustainer Indoor Theater Sept. 2, kept the audience in stitches. The Comics on Duty World Tour performed two shows, each two hours long, to a packed movie theater and visibly appreciative service members.
The comedians, Jim Labriola, Drake Witham, Nathan Timmel, Curtis Fortier and Danny Bevins, traveled all over Iraq via UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, a new experience for the comedians.
"We're having a great time. We've been on Blackhawks and C-130s, flying all over the place. I was onstage earlier this week when I heard a 'BOOM!' And everyone in the audience didn't move at all, but I jumped about three feet in the air," said Witham.
Witham beguiled the Soldiers with career advice and loved ones' reactions to his decision to perform in Iraq.
"When I told my family, we were coming over to Iraq, they weren't too jazzed about the idea because there's a war going on," Witham said. He made the point that people take risks everyday, so this tour was the least he could do. "One guy said to me, 'Hey, I could walk out in front of my house and get hit by a bus.' Really? Could you? I can get you a schedule." Witham said.
Witham said that he takes a passive aggressive attitude with most of the jobs he's had.
"My motto is if I've got to answer phones, it's going to suck for you, too," he said. Some of the comedians are no strangers to military audiences and have been on countless other deployed and overseas comedy tours.
"I've done military tours before. I find them very enlightening. I love talking to [Soldiers]. I love talking before shows, after shows, between shows. During shows, yell something out. I'll embarrass you, but yell something out," Timmel said.
Timmel offered some valuable tourist advice for the annoying, talkative person on an airplane.
"I suggest Compton. It's nice in the summer. Wear red," Timmel said. Timmel gave the male Soldiers relationship advice.
"A gentleman is supposed to spend the equivalent of three months of his yearly salary on a ring. So guys, when you get engaged, go down to part-time, volunteer, something," Timmel said.
All of the comedians were well received, but Bevins, a former airborne infantryman, was the big hit of the evening.
"I joined the Army because I was tired of my parents telling me what to do." Bevins said. "I was in the Army for four years. I went in an E-1, came out an E-1. I made E-4 twice, and I know why, Article 15s. I got four of them. I used to frame them, put them on my wall."
After ridiculing his time in the Army, Bevins gave credit where it was due.
"The people I really feel sorry for are the NCOs, especially E-6 and above," Bevins said. "Because they can never just say something once."
Through all of the performances, the theater echoed with the laughter of Soldiers and Airmen.
"Tears came to my eyes today. I loved it. We came from Camp Cobra, so it was refreshing to be able to see it," said Staff Sgt. David Rujsz, 252nd Armor.
At the end of the show, the comedians autographed photographs for the Soldiers and gave away Comics on Duty World Tour memorabilia.
The comedians share the same parting thought for the Soldiers, a 100 percent appreciation for them and all they do.
The Comics on Duty World Tour is produced by Richard Davis of the Davis Entertainment Group for the entertainment of the military community. It has performed more than 1,300 shows worldwide, employing only national headline comedians.
The tour encompassed 10 days and 12 shows in places such as Camp Patriot, Camp Victory, Forward Operating Base Cook and many others with LSA Anaconda being the final show.
Editors Note: Pfc. Burton is a member of the 28th Public Affairs Detachment from Fort Lewis, Wash. She is currently deployed to Iraq in support of the 13th Corps Support Command at LSA Anaconda.
(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - Service members laugh at the various comedic styles of the Comics on Duty World Tour comedians, who performed twice, each show lasting two hours.
(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - Comics on Duty World Tour comedian Jim Labriola demonstrates his impression of Floridians to a packed Sustainer Indoor Theater here Sept. 2.