Touring comedians help troops see the lighter side of life at Korea's DMZ
February 26, 2005
CAMP STANLEY, South Korea — Guarding Freedom’s Frontier is a deadly serious business but a group of touring U.S. comedians is helping troops stationed near South Korea’s Demilitarized Zone see the lighter side of their job.
U.S.-based comedians Tommy Davidson, Joe Torry and Hurricane Andrew performed at Camp Stanley on Thursday night and were to perform at Rodriguez Range on Friday night. The tour is the first of four by U.S. comedians to U.S. bases in South Korea planned by Morale, Welfare and Recreation this year.
The comedians were right at home among the soldiers.
“I’m a military brat,” said Joe Torry proudly, shortly before he went on stage at Camp Stanley’s Reggie’s Restaurant in front of several hundred troops.
Torry said he was born at an Army base in Newport, Va., which since has closed.
“My father was in the Army,” Torry said. “He did 25 years and two tours to Vietnam. There were six kids in the family and a drill sergeant for a father. It made for a lot of laughs.
“The funniest thing was my father bringing his job home with him,” Torry said. “Me being a rebel, I never complied with his orders.”
There is plenty to laugh at in South Korea, Torry said.
“Just walking around on the bases, there is so much that is funny. We have been laughing since we got here,” he said.
The comedian said he found South Korean society particularly amusing.
“You’ve got the electronics, the cameras, the technology … the clothes. Here you are living in a bootleg and knock-off world.”
Davidson indicated he also was at home on military installations, having performed at U.S. bases in England and Germany.
Performing in South Korea felt like performing at home, he said.
“Most of the soldiers who are abroad ... are just guys and girls from all the urban and rural parts of the U.S. Those are people I identify with anyway, so it is just like performing at home.
“I know they are here under extreme circumstances. These people are so far from home, and they don’t have the opportunity to see the type of entertainment we provide,” he said.
Professional comedians also travel a lot, he said: “It never really stops. Unless you can get yourself a solid foundation as a film or television star, stand-up is a way to make a living.”
Area I entertainment director John Antes said MWR hopes to get more U.S. entertainers to come to South Korea this year. Last year there were 1,054 shows in Area I, including 54 celebrity shows, he said.