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Comedians bring laughter to Team Lackland

By April Rowden | 37th Training Wing Public Affairs Office | March 7, 2008

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, TEXAS — Comedian Brad Garrett from the hit sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond" performed for a packed house Feb. 26 at the Gateway Club, leaving standing room only for those arriving an hour from show time.

The three-time Emmy Award-winning actor performed along with comedian Michael Jr., whose resume includes performances on Comedy Central, "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live." The duo entertained the crowd for more than two hours as part of a USO tour to Lackland.

Throughout the night, Mr. Garrett and Michael Jr. used their audience-driven routines to decode officer ranks, define the job of a base planner, commandeer ringing cell phones from the crowd and give a pricy shave to Steve Tovar, an employee at the Gateway Club.

While laughter flowed with most jokes, there were a few who felt some of the material was too raw in places.

John Gilbert, an Air Force retiree who said he felt parts of the routine were inappropriate, was able to meet with Mr. Garrett after the show.

"He was the most modest and gracious person," said Mr. Gilbert, despite his earlier aversion to the performance. "He was so good to everybody and put his arm around everyone. He took his time with people (during the meet and greet) and didn't try to rush out."

Senior Master Sgt. Frank Lisenbee with the 59th Dental Group said he enjoyed the show and were surprised by the overall quality.

"(Mr. Garrett's) comedic timing was impeccable," said the senior master sergeant. "This was great, especially for our younger folks."

At 7:50 p.m., more than 550 people from Lackland and Randolph AFB, as well as Fort Sam Houston, had packed into the club. By the time the show began less than a half-hour later, more than 700 had filled the room, with club staff bringing in extra chairs to accommodate the huge turnout.

"USO shows have always been well received at Lackland," said Charles Mullins, general manager of Lackland's collocated club. "Just look around at this attendance."

This was the first USO tour for both comedians.

"Seeing these brave men and women was incredibly inspiring to me," said the actor/comedian. "I love doing stand-up, and so does Michael Jr., and we just wanted to give some back. I just can't imagine the courage these young men and women show us so we can live free, so it's the least I can do. Including cutting off the guy's goatee and writing a check to the USO for five grand, which I'm going to do."

During the San Antonio visit, the comedians visited the Burn Center at Fort Sam Houston.

"It was a humbling day. I feel blessed," Mr. Garrett said.