By Brett DeNeve:
Have you ever heard that laughter is the best medicine? A group of military veterans, after facing the demands of live combat, have turned to stand up comedy to not only help remedy the ghosts of their own past but their audience members as well. Their mission statement; “Stand Up Comics. All Veterans. Still Serving their Country one joke at a time.” The main acts are comprised of Thom Tran, Joe Sarduy, and Tom Irwin. Tran is a retired Staff Sargent from the U.S. Army, Sarduy is a Major in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, and Irwin is a former Private First Class from the U.S. Army.
The GIs of Comedy will be filming a TV special for broadcast next Saturday, November 2nd, in Rockwell Hall here at Buff State.
The event is set to start at 7 p.m. and general admission tickets are $20 but if you are a veteran or still in active duty the event is totally free. Ticket sales, as well as more information on this group, can be found on their newly updated website.
This 1-hour comedy special is the result of an Indiegogo campaign (a form of crowd funding) with the end goal resulting in 20,000 DVD copies of the show being sent overseas to the men and women who protect our country every day and are in despite need of the gift of laughter. Thanks to Buffalo State for it’s donations of both the facility itself and the student staffing of the event, as well as the GI’s effective funding efforts, different dreams of people the likes of whom may have never even crossed paths in the first place have became a reality. Not only will Buff State students be able to try their hand in a production that is going to be seen by a bottom line of 20,000 people, not to mention Rockwell Hall’s 856 seats, but The GI’s of Comedy will move one step closer to their end goal; being able to perform for any solider deployed anywhere around the world.
Tran, a Western New York native and Buff State alum, was shot in the back of the head in Iraq back in 2003. The bullet wound, although giving Tran more than enough blood running down the right side of his neck to be worried about, healed physically just fine; his mental state however, was a different case.
Two weeks before he came home, his roommate was killed by an I.E.D. (an improvised explosive device). “Everything kind of went downhill from there,” he said in his CBS interview with Jeff Glor. “I didn’t smile, didn’t laugh, didn’t really like anything.” The doctor’s at the V.A. told him he was due for a heart attack by thirty if he didn’t figure something out to de-stress and loosen up a little. “Comedy was it,” Tran said with a smile.
Photos: GI’s Indigogo profile – Lead image is Tom Irwin