SERVING: One Joke At A Time

Area veterans and active duty personnel were treated to a old-fashioned war-time USO style comedy show featuring the GIs of Comedy Friday evening.

During the annual Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy the outside of the Reg Lenna Civic Center was surrounded by area veterans and active duty personnel who were invited to enjoy the free comedy show presented by the GIs of Comedy, a comedic troupe of troops, consisting of Thom Tran, a retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt., U.S. Air Force Maj. Jose Sarduy and U.S. Army Pfc. Tom Irwin.

But, before the comedy started, a pre-show event was held outside the theater. At about 4:30 p.m., live music was performed by the Street Side Swingers, which consisted of John Cross and two of his students. A bugler, Bill Servis, also performed from atop the marquee of the Reg Lenna Civic Center.

The show was opened by a color guard presentation by Jamestown’s Civil Air Patrol Squadron of the United States Air Force, which featured Jeff Rupp, 1st Lt., Matt Rupp, 1st Lt., Clayton Hanson, 2nd Lt., Colin Hanson, 2nd Lt. and Brandon Powell, 2nd Lt.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to get the word out about the Civil Air Patrol, and to show honor to veterans and our country,” said Rupp.

During the color guard, the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Rev. Daniel S. Rumfelt, chaplain at Lutheran and former chaplain of the U.S. Naval Reserve.

“I think its just super to recognize all the troops,” said Rumfelt. “I was very happy to be asked to come and be a part of it because I grew up in a military family, and was in the military, so I’m always ready to salute.”

Immediately following, Broadway star Jan Horvath and women from Jamestown’s Drama Enrichment Program performed the “Boogie Woogie Medley.”

Tran then took the stage to get the comedy ball rolling. He opened his set by talking about his involvement with Activision’s “Call of Duty: Black Ops.” He also joked about women being allowed to serve in the military: “I’ve served in Iraq, and I’ve been divorced. Guess which I’d rather do again,” asked Tran. “Men on the battlefield will kill you, women will make you want to kill yourself.”

According to Tran, he was a bit worried about hosting a comedy show at 5:30 in the afternoon, but it turned out a lot better than he thought it would.

“It’s not the optimal time to do comedy, because as a comic we normally wake up around 2:30 in the afternoon,” said Tran. “But, everybody here is just so ready to laugh, and it’s amazing how hot this audience is – it’s great.”

Tran then introduced Irwin, whose exchange with the audience garnered both much laughter when he spoke about heart attacks and also a share of boos when he joked about how much he disliked microbreweries. “You’re okay with my heart attack jokes, but not the microbrew one?” asked Irwin.

Irwin’s performance was followed by the Cuban native Sarduy, who opened his set with a joke about how surprised the audience seemed about how white he looked. He then began talking about how the film “Titanic” would have been better if Cubans had been in it, and how he thought “I Love Lucy” was unrealistic. “A Cuban guy marries a white woman and his mother is nowhere to be found?” asked Sarduy. “My mother would be in the kitchen telling my wife what to cook for every meal.”

Following the performance, a salute to the troops was held. As guests exited the theater, they were greeted by the Blue Star Mothers, who hosted a meet-and-greet with the GIs of Comedy. The Infinity Big Band also performed outside during the event. Cpl. Peter Carlo, of Dunkirk, a Korean War veteran, donated three flags, one to each member of the GIs of Comedy.

The GIs of Comedy travel the country with the goal of bringing the healing power of laughter to every veteran and service member. For more information, visit www.gisofcomedy.com.