Show provides 'A Shot of Reality'
December 5, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (December 5, 2013) -- Alcohol abuse is no laughing matter, but Soldiers and civilians on Fort Rucker were left in stitches as they got the opportunity to laugh and learn during a performance designed to educate people on the negative effects of alcohol.
The Fort Rucker Army Substance Abuse Program treated Soldiers to "A Shot of Reality with a Comedy Chaser," which is a two-man show put on by Colin Sweeney and Patrick McIntyre at the post theater Dec. 3, as a means to provide an unconventional way of looking at alcohol abuse.
"Over the last three years, we've started doing these alcohol awareness shows that have a comedy element to them, and we came to realize that this was something that was lacking at all these institutions that (we've performed)," said Sweeney. "The old, boring slide shows and 'death by PowerPoint' doesn't resonate with anybody, so they'll (become easily distracted) and won't pay attention."
The show was heavy with audience participation and full of comedy skits, but the message it provides is one that people found was easier to swallow with the element of laughter.
This form of education entertainment that the duo calls "edutainment" seemed to strike a chord with many in attendance, and Pfc. Janelle Hartley, C Company, 1st Battalion, 11th Aviation Regiment, said it was a form of education that she actually enjoyed.
"It was a really big change from the usual performances for training that we've seen here and I enjoyed it a lot," she said. "This hit me a lot more than just having someone speak to me about alcohol (and it did more than make me laugh). It showed me how people act while they're (under the influence) of alcohol, so it was really informative, too."
Hartley was one of many volunteers that helped throughout the show by putting on a pair of glasses that simulates intoxication and trying to perform normal, everyday actions to depict what it's like when someone is under the influence. And as a person who normally keeps to herself, she said the experience was one she'd remember.
The show isn't meant to completely deter people from drinking alcohol, said Sweeney, but to do it responsibly, if at all. People were provided with tips like staying hydrated, keeping an eye on their drinks, not mixing alcohol with energy drinks and deleting "their exes" numbers from their phones if they are drinking.
They also hit on the negative effects of alcohol that hinder health and judgment, and even hosted a game show that quizzed Soldiers on their knowledge of the effects of alcohol, alcohol-related diseases and general facts.
One of the main points of the show was the help visualize what the different stages of alcohol consumption might look like, from someone who has a light buzz to someone who might be suffering from alcohol poisoning.
The comedy duo played out multiple drunken scenarios to also help visualize what people should do in different situations if they find that their friend has had too much to drink.
The show normally tours to college circuit but has moved into the military market because the demographic and culture has its similarities, said Sweeney, but the education isn't just for the younger generation -- it's for everyone.
"I think this type of training is important because we have a big group (on Fort Rucker), a mixture of Soldiers, young and old, and its good to change things up every now and then," she said. "Especially with exodus coming up and the long break, it's good to relate to the Soldiers here."
Sweeney said that education is tantamount because of the way alcohol has made its way into the culture of the United States as something that is considered normal.
"In our country there is this mentality that alcohol is totally OK, and it's not," said Sweeney. "Because of that, it's kind of like the silent killer. It gets away with a lot of things.
"We're a country that is very hard on everything from prescription drug abuse to illegal drugs, but a lot of times, with alcohol, we act like it's not a big deal," he continued. "But it is a big deal and we need to talk about it. We talk a lot about sexual assault and suicides in the military, and although alcohol isn't the reason a lot of these things happen, it makes it easier for those things to happen."
Sweeney said that 50-80 percent of all sexual assaults have alcohol involved, and a large number of people that commit suicide have alcohol in their system at the time of their death.
"Alcohol is like the bad influence friend. They're not making you do it, but they're making it easier for you to do it," he said.