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The Last Laugh


Kandahar, Afghanistan...Comics On Duty

The burst of a .50 caliber machine gun snapped me to attention. The door gunners on my Blackhawk helicopter were routinely testing their weapons as we zoomed over the hills of Afghanistan to do a show at a FOB, Forward Operating Base. The monotonous scenery lulls you into a stupor that is occasionally broken by shabby, colorless villages that aspire to be impoverished. The lowlands are pockmarked by hundreds of hand dug dry wells that support a few scrawny sheep and goats and literally nothing else. With the exception of a couple of small camel caravans staggering to mysterious markets, the countryside appears to be empty.
The hills and mountains are crisscrossed with trails that wander in all directions yet seem to go nowhere. This where Al Queda lives, this is where Osama Bin Laden hid. But after seeing these confusing hills I'm convinced Bin Laden didn't avoid capture by his cunning, he was just lost like the rest of us.

Afganistan runs half an hour off any time zone so you never are quite sure what time it is. To make it even more confusing, the military runs on Greenich Mean Time or Zulu Time, which is odd because I haven't seen a Zulu warrior since I've been here. It wouldn't surprise me though because Afganistan is at least half a century behind the rest of the world.
Our shows are usually packed with soldiers eager for a break from the constant tension. We've performed in all conditions in a number of venues. In the cold and snow of Bishkek at one in the morning; in the afternoon heat in Uzbeckistan; in the omnipresent dust of Afghanistan. We sleep five to a room, eat with the troops and share the hardships of their mission. They couldn't be better hosts. They could be better cooks but it's hard to shoot and grill at the same time.

We're off to do shows at 8:30 this morning local time and as soon as I figure out when that is, I'll be on my way to the next FOB. There's an armed crowd waiting to laugh and I don't want to miss a single shot.


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