Comedian plans USO tour — if there’s whiskey on stage
By LEO SHANE III | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 9, 2008
WASHINGTON — Comedian Ron White is hoping to tour with overseas troops again this summer, as long as the military lets him drink on stage.
“We let them know I’m no angel, and I’m not coming over to convert anyone to ‘angelism,’” he said, taking a swig from his ever-present glass of whiskey. “I’m going over there to make some guys laugh who need a good laugh.
“Luckily, they’ve been pretty liberal with me in the past.”
White, best known for his work in the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, visited bases in Germany and Belgium two years ago as part of a USO show for servicemembers, all with alcohol in hand.
He said officials are working on similar trip after his current tour wraps up in June, but details of when and where he’ll go still need to be worked out.
On Wednesday he was in Washington for the Armed Forces Foundation Gala, helping to raise money and awareness for programs to help wounded troops returning home.
“The sacrifice these guys and gals have made is something they can’t take back,” he said. “So it’s important to make sure people know that some of their needs and support drops off after a certain point, and they still need help.”
But that doesn’t mean they need coddling: As he met with troops from Walter Reed Army Medical Center at the event, one soldier jumped to the front of the line to shake his hand.
“Hi, I’m Ron White.”
“Nice to meet you, Mr. White. I’m a big fan.”
“This would be a great time for you to say your name.”
The soldier grinned and stuttered out his name as those around him chuckled.
White poked fun at another soldier who grew up near the Salt River in Arizona, the topic of one of his best known stand-up routines. And he even sought advice from the happy fans.
“I was thinking I’d open with, ‘I was in South Carolina last night. Boy, you people think you’re stupid!’”
White laughed, but the small audience of troops merely smiled.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” he said. “Screw it, I’m opening with it anyway. I’m digging myself a hole I can’t get out of.”
That elicited belly laughs, and a smile from the comedian.