'Happy Hour' tour brings comedy relief
October 7, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Comedy with a poignant message was the delivery method of well-known comedian Bernie McGrenahan during his 'Happy Hour' tour sponsored by the Army Substance Abuse Program, Sept. 29, at Fort Stewart's Post Main Chapel.
Soldiers and Civilians packed the chapel during his one-hour show that kept audience members on the edge of their seats with laughter and tears, in conjunction with fulfilling mandatory training requirements.
After a brief introduction from Fort Stewart Suicide Prevention Program Manager, Dr. Paul Wade, McGrenahan began the first half of his comedy show. No topic was off limits. McGrenahan joked about everything from current pop culture to daily grocery store encounters.
With the audience's attention, McGrenahan gradually spoke about the downward spiral of his life as a young man. He candidly spoke about serving a six month sentence for driving under the influence and how he used alcohol to cope with the pain of losing his 19-year-old brother Scott who committed suicide.
Rather than using charts and graphs during his show, McGrenahan used the combination of comedy and heartbreaking messages to reach someone who could relate to his story.
"It's [the show] different," McGrenahan said. "I don't give statistics or show charts and I think that's a breath of fresh air to make them laugh and have something strong enough that will touch their heart… I'm not out here to say don't do this or that. That is not my job. My job is to tell you that if you do this [drinking and driving] like I did, you will have a problem. If you do have a problem, maybe I can inspire you to talk to someone and get help. Whereas if I did not come, you may have stayed in denial. Many good things can happen after this."
Vanguard Soldier and attendee Spc. Steven Rodgers of 4th Infantry Brigade Combat team, Third Infantry Division said, "I found this training a lot better because he is actually telling his story."
McGrenahan was brought to Stewart-Hunter to connect with his audience through laughter while delivering emotional messages of alcohol, drug abuse, sexual assault and suicide.
In addition to his television comedy specials, McGrenahan tours military installations across the country delivering impactful training sessions on addiction and abuse.
"We are always making deals with ourselves," McGrenahan said. "If you have a drinking or a drug problem you have to quit everything and live life on life's terms… I had a choice after my brother killed himself and after my third DUI. I could continue to play the victim, or I could look in the mirror and say I chose to do all of this. I was determined that I was going to be strong. I humbled my ego and said 'I don't have this under control,' asked for help and made a change."
This busy stand-up comedian who is featured on late night television comedy specials feels it's his obligation to deliver his message to service members.
"I want to thank the Soldiers for what they do," expressed McGrenahan. "I just want them to know that I appreciate you, America and I love you. I don't want you to hurt yourself. If you are in pain and not feeling strong. It's not a sign of weakness. You still have courage and you can still be resilient."
Resources like the Army Substance Abuse Program provide help to the Army's workforce. For more information call 912-767-5974 at Stewart and 912-315-5592 at Hunter.