Finding Humor in the Midst of Waiting: The Power of Comedy for Veterans

Military veterans use comedy as a coping mechanism to navigate the challenges of deployment and connect with diverse audiences.

In the military, waiting is an inevitable part of the job. Whether it’s waiting to leave, waiting to come back, or waiting in line, humor often becomes a lifeline for veterans. The ability to find laughter in the mundane or the mistakes helps to ease the rough edges of life on deployment. This unique brand of comedy plays to a diverse audience and finds interesting angles on routine experiences. It is irreverent, serving as a reminder that laughter can bridge the gap between the inhumanity of war and the humanity of those who serve.

The Healing Power of Laughter

Humor has long been recognized as a powerful tool for healing and connection. For veterans, it serves as a coping mechanism to navigate the challenges of military life. The Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP) has been instrumental in providing a platform for military veteran comedians to share their stories and connect with audiences. Through comedy, these veterans are able to address difficult topics such as war, race, and patriotism, while still finding moments of laughter and unity.

Breaking Down Barriers

Comedy has a unique ability to break down barriers and bring people from different backgrounds together. The military is a melting pot of individuals from various walks of life, brought together by a shared desire to serve. As they learn, wait, and take risks together, they form bonds of trust and friendship. Comedy allows veterans to share their experiences and perspectives, creating a space for dialogue and understanding. It provides an opportunity for individuals from different generations, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds to find common ground and connect through laughter.

Embracing Cultural Diversity

The cultural diversity within the military is a testament to the beauty of America. Veterans from all walks of life, including trailer parks in the mountain West, East Coast neighborhoods, immigrant enclaves of the Midwest, and sprawling Southern suburbs, serve side by side. This diversity is reflected in the audience that gathers to enjoy veteran comedy shows. It is an enchanting sight to witness Vietnam veterans laughing alongside Gen Z women, highlighting the unique ability of comedy to bridge generational and cultural gaps.

The Power of Vulnerability

Veteran comedians often use vulnerability as a tool to connect with their audience. By making themselves the butt of the joke, they model how to offer both praise and critique for the country. Through self-deprecating humor, they navigate sensitive topics such as race, privilege, and patriotism. This vulnerability opens the door for meaningful conversations and allows for a deeper understanding of differing perspectives. It encourages individuals to grapple with the hard stuff together, fostering a sense of unity and empathy.

Knowing Your Audience

After a comedy show, the comedians and audience engage in conversations to unpack any jokes that may have landed awkwardly. This dialogue allows for a deeper exploration of the impact of humor on different individuals. It provides an opportunity to discuss sensitive topics such as white privilege and police brutality, highlighting the importance of understanding one’s audience. Just as comedians must tailor their jokes to connect with their audience, individuals engaging in dialogue must be aware of the diverse experiences and perspectives present.


Comedy serves as a powerful tool for veterans to navigate the challenges of military life and connect with diverse audiences. It allows for healing, breaks down barriers, embraces cultural diversity, and encourages vulnerability. Through laughter, veterans can address difficult topics, foster dialogue, and bridge gaps between generations, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds. As we honor veterans on Veterans Day, let us appreciate the humanity of those who serve and recognize the power of comedy in their lives.






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