By Spc. Grant LigonAugust 14, 2019
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - In a deployed environment, the gym echoes with the sound of Soldiers lifting weights. However, laughter filled the gym as the U.S. Army's Morale, Welfare and Recreation program hosted a comedy night at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, Aug. 5.
Armed Forces Entertainment brought comedians part of the World Wide Comedy tour to make Soldiers laugh and boost morale while deployed. Armed Forces Entertainment is the Department of Defense's official agency for providing entertainment to U.S. military personnel overseas. Founded in 1951, AFE hosts over 1,200 shows around the world each year.
The lineup for this event included Johnny Cardinale, Erica Rhodes, Courtney Scheuerman and Chris Wivell. The comedians spent the day visiting Soldiers' work areas and visiting the camp's virtual training center before their performances that night.
While performing his set, Cardinale brought U.S. Army Spc. Takeem Myers on stage to display his guitar and vocal talents. Myers serves as a financial management technician with the 374th Financial Management Support Unit, and says he thought the show was hilarious.
"I did laugh a lot," said Myers. "There were points in time where I was
having a hard time breathing from how hard I was laughing."
Myers expressed appreciation for the event and the comedian's willingness to travel to make Soldiers laugh.
"It doesn't make you forget that you are so far away from home," said Myers. "But it helps."
Cardinale recalled meeting a Soldier that inspired him to continue
performing and hosting comedy tours for the military.
"While I was in Afghanistan, I had a Soldier tell me that he hadn't laughed in six months, until that night," Cardinale said. "That goes beyond anything I ever thought I would hear in standup comedy."
For the past 10 years, he has put on 14 tours bringing friends and fellow
comedians to share the experience.
"I tell the comics before we even go, "[Making Soldiers laugh] is the greatest thing ever," he said. "Not only making them laugh, but watching the comics mingle and listen to the Soldiers' stories."
After the show, the comedians received certificates of appreciation and
command coins from Col. Robert Hughes and Command Sgt. Maj. Scott
Mechkowski, the Kosovo Force Multinational Battle Group - East Command team.
The comedians stayed after the event to sign autographs and spend time
talking with Soldiers.
The World Wide Comedy tour ends Aug. 27, and has stops in Kosovo, the United Kingdom, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Norway.