Comedian brings laughs and lessons
November 29, 2010
- Bernie McGrenahan makes fun of pop culture but adds important message
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany Aca,!aEURc It was a sea of camouflage at the Tower Theater, Nov. 16, as more than 500 Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, gathered for a comedy hour coupled with important training.
Comedian Bernie McGrenahan took the stage, coming on strong with a plethora of jokes poking fun at pop culture and everyday experiences.
McGrenahan's warm smile reeled in the audience quickly and his casual disposition (with jeans and Converse shoes to boot) made them feel comfortable. He laughed along with the audience when he told jokes and strode across the stage showcasing overexaggerated body movements and facial expressions.
McGrenahan is a man's man. He's the kind of guy you could easily have a beer with Aca,!aEURc except he doesn't drink.
In-between short stabs at innocuous episodes of life, McGrenahan hid a lesson, a true story of reckless behavior and what it cost, borrowed from his adolescent self.
A self-proclaimed "partier" McGrenahan received three driving-under-the-influence tickets by the time he was 26, which landed him in a Los Angeles County jail for six months. The loss of his younger brother to suicide, provoked by his own alcohol and drug abuse, wasn't enough to sober McGrenahan up and he eventually fell into a deep stage of denial about his problem.
But for the renowned stand-up comedian, life is funny Aca,!aEURc funny "ha-ha" and funny "ironic."
The mishaps of his life are now swept up into a comedy routine that has changed the way Army Substance Abuse Program, Alcohol Drug Abuse Prevention Training and Sexual Assault Response Coordinators educate members of the armed forces. It's a different approach to training and one that keeps the audience captivated and attentive, according to Spc. Clayton Lunz.
"We hear the same information on the effects of drugs and alcohol and at times it can be redundant," said Lunz. "But this show was different, lively. He didn't preach, he just talked and we listened."
"And it was hilarious," said Sgt. Brenda Cousley. "But his story had a lesson that everyone was paying attention to. This type of behavior could happen to anyone and he showed us some of the danger signs."
McGrenahan started the "Happy Hour" program nine years after he took his last drink. First performing in colleges and universities across the states, McGrenahan soon teamed up with Army Community Service to aid in the education of Soldiers and other members of the armed forces.
"I am a just extension of their training," said the humble McGrenahan. "I have a personal testimony that I can reach from and share with the Soldiers."
McGrenahan stated by sharing his experiences he hopes it will help Soldiers recognize troubling behavior in themselves or their battle buddies.
"You can't look for the differences in my story and yours and deny you have a problem," said McGrenahan. "The key is to look for the similarities and get the help that is needed."
The show made spectators laugh. It made their hearts sink into the pits of their stomach and sobered them into the realization of the negative effects of drugs and alcohol, all while a smile remained planted on their lips.
Nothing was sacred in McGrenahan's comedy routine, but everything had an important lesson.
For more information on McGrenahan and his "Happy Hour" tour, visit www.comedyisthecure.com.