Veteran’s Day is an widely celebrated holiday in the U.S., and Keene is no different. With many people who are either veterans or are people with family members who are going to or were deployed, it can be hard to laugh. That is why comedians PJ Walsh and Benari Poulten, from the comedic group the GI’s of Comedy, travel all around the nation and world to spread laughter. What distinguishes them from other comedians is that they are veterans.
On Veteran’s Day, the GI’s of Comedy came to Keene State College to do their stand-up routine. Roughly fourteen people showed up to the event held at the Night Owl Cafe in the Young Student Center. The first comedian to arrive at the event was Poulten.
“You guys are the heroes for coming out tonight,” he opened. He went on to reflect on his life as a comedian and veteran, never forgetting to interact with the crowd and bring humor into his stories. The crowd erupted in laughter as he told a story about his time at a New York City bar on Halloween.
“You can be whatever you want to be, but if you are going to dress up as a clown, consider what you’ll look like by the end of the night,” he joked as people laughed and clapped.
He went on to tell an animated story about his obsession with superman when he was three years old and how he wore a superhero outfit under his normal clothes. Poulten then talked about his humorous experiences while being deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Poulten said his military experience influenced his comedy and helped him become a better comedian.
“My military experience really showed me the value of being able to make people laugh” said Poulten. Poulten said he always wanted to do comedy. He wrote for a few shows on Comedy Central, the Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore and a sports comedy show called Garbage Time.
After Poulten did his comedy routine, Walsh stepped up to the plate. Walsh opened up by poking fun at the majority of the crowd for being at the back of the room. He said while the crowd was small he was glad they came. Walsh said he had no audience members at some of his shows.
He did a brief imitation of being a one man show by sitting on one of the empty seats and pretending to be himself acting like an audience member. He also talked about the time when he worked with Bill Clinton at the White House and his time being investigated by the FBI to get clearance before he worked for the White House.
Walsh highlighted the importance of comedy in military settings.
“Somebody told me statistically when comedy comes through, the suicide rate drops,” said Walsh.
Poulten added comedy also boosts the morale of other people. “I feel like if you come out to a show to be entertained, it’s my job to entertain you,” said Poulten.
KSC Sophomore, Emma Johansen who was in the audience said she would see their standup again and would bring her roommate.
“It was really funny, it was nice to come in and join after a long day just to relax and have fun. I got a good laugh,” said Johansen.
Walsh expressed his appreciation. He said loved seeing young people in the crowd.
“You guys make it worth the drive,” he said towards the end of the routine.
Walsh said he admires the millennial generation.
“I believe in your generation, I believe you guys will make so much of a difference in the world and I am excited about that and I apologize for mine” said Walsh.
Katherine Glosser can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org