First leg of comedian Iliza Shlesinger’s USO tour stops at ‘Mayberry’ base in Tokyo
Stars and Stripes July 21, 2023
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Comedian Iliza Shlesinger’s USO show packed the enlisted club Thursday at this Air Force airlift hub in western Tokyo.
The fan consensus: She, along with fellow comics Laura Peek and Hunter Hill, slayed.
“We are so pumped to be here,” Shlesinger said as she started her half-hour stand-up set. “We wanted to kick off the tour and I was, like, take me to the place where we have the smartest military, the best looking, so we're going to a naval base tomorrow.”
Extra seats were brought in to fit approximately 400 people into the enlisted club ballroom to see Shlesinger, who has evolved “from ‘party goblin’ to a mother and voice of the ‘elder millennial’ generation,” according to the Los Angeles Times in October.
Before the show, Shlesinger — star of six Netflix specials, an author and a YouTube staple — toured the base with Peek and Hill, who warmed up the crowd with their own 15-minute acts.
A tour highlight was a helicopter ride from Yokota’s flightline, Shlesinger told Stars and Stripes during a pre-show event with about 50 airmen and their families at the base USO.
“Going up in a Huey and touring above downtown Tokyo in a helicopter was a once in a lifetime for us,” she said. “It's several times in a week for them.”
The comedians also visited the Yokota Fire Department, the Army and Air Force Exchange and ate lunch at the Samurai Café Dining Facility.
“Every base has its vibe and here definitely feels more family oriented,” Shlesinger said. “I asked somebody yesterday what it was like to have kids here and he said it's like Mayberry.”
Shlesinger’s USO tour included stops Friday at Yokosuka Naval Base’s Fleet Theater and Saturday at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni’s Club Iwakuni. A scheduled show in Tokyo is canceled, according to Shlesinger’s Facebook page.
During the meet-and-greet, fans lined up to take photos with the comedian.
“Any time I've had a bad day at work I watch ‘Elder Millennial,’ [Shlesinger’s 2018 Netflix special] on TV,” said Tech. Sgt. Nichole Worthing, of the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, at the event. “She is one of the few people that makes me laugh when I'm already mad.”
On stage, Shlesinger combined current events with her signature style.
She said she met a guy at Kansas airport who was “so hot” and “so charming,” she could only garble unintelligently, though he had a down side.
“He was definitely at Jan. 6,” she said, referring to the day a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol building in 2021.
An apprehensive “ohhh,” spread through the audience, followed by an outbreak of laughter.
“I'm just talking to him,” Shlesinger said. “Listen, lunatics can be attractive.”
Airman 1st Class Alan Watson, on temporary duty at Yokota from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., said her performance was good for morale.
“A lot of times these people — entertainers and comedians — they aren’t seen as patriotic people, so to know there are entertainers that still support the military means a lot,” he said.