Military veterans prepare to bring laughs to Williamsburg, VA brewery
By NATALIE JOSEPH | Daily Press (Newport News, Va.) | Published: June 14, 2018
(Tribune News Service) — Air Force veteran Kristen Howard said she didn’t feel like she fit in anywhere after leaving the military.
The stay-at-home mother of four wasn’t into play groups and other activities associated with motherhood. But she loved the arts.
It wasn’t until she got involved with the Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP), an organization that supports veterans and their families through the arts, that she found her place by way of comedy.
Howard, based out of Virginia Beach, participated one of ASAP’s comedy boot camps last fall. The bootcamp is a seven-week course led by professional comics and teaches writing and performing skills. The classes require students to apply and Howard said was accepted on her first try.
“Doing comedy boot camp has actually been life changing for me,” Howard said.
She now continues to participate in comedy shows and will perform at the Virginia Beer Company on Sunday during a veterans comedy show sponsored by ASAP.
The line up will include veterans, service members and military family members from around the Hampton Roads and Greater Richmond areas. Williamsburg blues musician Bobby “Blackhat” Walters is also slated to perform.
“I found this sort of family at ASAP,” Howard said. “These like-minded veterans that just are interested in having a good laugh. We hang out, we help each other.”
Cristine Pedersen is another ASAP comedy boot camp graduate.
The Marine Corps veteran and Army spouse said she uses comedy as a way eliminate anxiety and gain confidence in her comedic and public speaking abilities.
She graduated from ASAP’s comedy bootcamp in May and also plans to perform Sunday.
“Comedy bootcamp really helped me open up on stage and find my voice” Pedersen said. “I realized in class that anytime you're on stage, whether your telling dirty jokes or giving commencement addresses, it's more of a conversation than anything else.”
ASAP is a Hampton Roads and Washington D.C.-based nonprofit founded by William and Mary graduate Sam Pressler three years ago.
Pressler said ASAP’s main focus is to help veterans and their families integrate into their communities through artistic expression. ASAP fulfills its mission by providing classes and workshops focused on topics such as comedy, creative writing, storytelling, music, visual arts and more.
The upcoming show at the Virginia Beer Company serves as an ongoing engagement opportunity for ASAP graduates after they complete their specific program. ASAP hosts six to 12 community shows every year in Hampton Roads, Pressler said.
“There needs to be continuous opportunities for those who go through our program,” Pressler said. “It’s not just a pat on the back and you’re done.”
To learn more about ASAP, visit asapasap.org or call 202-730-8206.
Want to go?
When: 8-10 p.m. Sunday June 17
Where: Virginia Beer Company; 401 Second Street, Williamsburg area.
Cost: $10 online, $15 at the door.