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Marines laugh it up with Iraq comedy tour

17 Jun 2006 | Cpl. Brian Reimers

Sounds of laughter and clapping filled the room as the crowd sat listening to the performer on stage.

Marines from 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, were able to relax and be entertained during a show put on by a group of comedians.

“Laughter is a stress reliever,” said Sgt. David T. Rowland, the battalion armory chief. “These guys went out of their way to make us laugh and help boost morale for the Marines.”

“The mission here requires Marines to work 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week,” added Sgt. Toniko O. Parker, the battalion maintenance management chief. “Coming and letting us laugh with them helps your mind be at ease for a little while. It’s like home away from home.”

The three professional American comics served up two straight hours of fun and laughter for Marines who routinely patrol the streets of Fallujah and the surrounding villages.

Larry Myles, Cortney Gee, and Yoursie are touring Iraq for eight days, performing two shows per day at several different forward operating bases throughout the combat zone.

For them, performing for Marines was their way to serve the troops.

“I didn’t think about the risk,” said Gee, who was recently featured on the Def Jam Comedy Tour. “I figured as hard as all of the soldiers and Marines work to keep us free, this was the least I could do. I think that it is my duty.”

The show kicked off just after sunset in the camp’s chow hall where Marines gathered, anticipating the comedians’ entrance.

“I was exited to hear that that the show was coming here,” said Lance Cpl. Patrick S. Gormley, a radio technician from Stoughton, Mass. “I have never seen a comedy show before. I never thought that I would be able to see a live comedy show here in Iraq.”

“Usually we would pay to see their show, but they are taking time away to pay us with their show and that really means a lot,” 25 year-old Rowland added.

Myles, from Dorchester, Mass., had the “New England’s Own” crowd smiling from ear-to-ear within moments of hitting the stage.

“The first comedian was from the Boston area, he had something for everyone,” said 21-year-old Gormley. “He made a lot of references to back home which made me laugh a lot and really enjoy the show.”

The Marines each had their own favorite comedian, many of whom had seen them before in the United States.

“I thought that the show was hilarious,” Rowland said, from Dalles, Ore. “It was pretty cool to see Cortney live. I had seen him on television before and this is the last place I would think to see his show live. It was great.”

The smiling Marines stood in line after the show recalling the jokes told to receive autographs and CDs from the stand-up comics. They spent time talking to each Marine and personalizing a poster given to them to take home.

“Thanks for what you do,” Myles said to the Marines. “It makes it possible for me to do what I do, make people laugh.”

“That is what we fight for, freedom – the freedom of speech and the freedom to be able to laugh, live, and have a good time,” said Parker from Clarksville, Tenn. “Anybody that will take time out of their schedules, sit down and laugh with us, and express themselves in a way that we can’t always do here is an awesome thing.”

Spending only hours on the ground, the comics headed out a short time after their performance to visit their next group of service members. Their show filled the Marines here with laughter, smiles, and a positive remembrance when looking back on their time in Iraq.

“It’s funny because now I will be sitting at my desk thinking of the jokes and I will just start laughing out loud,” 27-year-old Parker said.