Comedian David Allen Grier performs his comedy skit for the Soldiers at Forward Operating Base Prosperity in central Baghdad during a USO Tour Feb. 11. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kate Huff, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)
USO comes to Baghdad base camp “In Living Color”
By Maj. Sean Ryan
2-2 Inf. PAO
FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq – The USO-sponsored comedy tour headlining David Alan Grier with fellow comedians Kevin Avery and Kristopher Tinkle was the talk of the FOB here all week, and tickets were in high demand for the Feb. 10 show.
The performers didn’t disappoint, as those in the packed house were rolling with laughter after every 30-minute set, with Grier commanding the stage for the last set.
It was definitely an adults only show, as Grier’s topics ranged from divorce to running his first and only marathon, and concluding with his soulful 1960s version of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
Spc. Latoya Roberts, a resident of Anniston, Ala., and personnel clerk, said she was really excited about the show. “I was shocked to find out the comedians were coming to FOB Loyalty since it has a reputation of being dangerous due to constant mortar fire.
The show was very entertaining and I thought David Alan Grier was a real people person,” she said. “He even gave me the same t-shirt he was wearing on stage.”
Grier, despite being nominated in 1981 for a Tony Award for his portrayal of Jackie Robinson, found his greatest success in the 1990s television series, “In Living Color,” which produced other Hollywood stars such as Jim Carrey, Jennifer Lopez and Jamie Foxx.
The former Detroit native and graduate of the University of Michigan was approached by the USO to come to Iraq to visit the troops and convinced both Avery and Tinkle to join him.
Grier said he tricked Avery to come here but said the comedians are close friends, despite Avery’s reluctance to fly.
The flight was extra long for Grier, as he had recently flown coast-to-coast in the states before leaving on his current trip. Grier said he currently has a few individual projects going on, to include working on his own production company and has worked with both Avery and Tinkle is the past..
Tinkle, an unlikely substitute teacher based out of San Francisco, started the show and discussed his students, lack of knowledge on most subjects teachers should know and a lack of a monogamous relationship.
Staff Sgt. Kevin Lee, an engineer with the 2nd BCT and resident of Clanton, Ala., thought it was a great show and a tremendous boost for morale. Lee said the show really gave the Soldiers something to do besides the typical missions and never thought a big-time entertainer like Grier, would come to Iraq. He was really impressed with Tinkle as well, though he had not heard of him before.
“Everyone I talked to had a great time and really enjoyed the show,” he said. Avery, who grew up in the San Francisco area and later moved to Alabama, attended Tuskegee University. He studied drama, but came back to comedy after he couldn’t remember his lines in serious roles and found himself improvising. His act contained bits about trying to be more of a thug in Oakland and having a voice that didn’t coincide with his race.
After the show, the three relaxed with the Soldiers on stage and conducted a meet-and-greet to sign autographs and take photos. After the meet-and-greet, Grier and company went to the dining facility and enjoyed ice cream before their flight, and said they were extremely pleased to be a part of the tour and perform for the Soldiers.
Some Soldiers, just in from missions, had to do double-takes and couldn’t believe they were hanging out with the three entertainers while eating a late dinner.
(Photo by Staff Sgt. Bronco Suzuki 2-2 Inf. Public Affairs)
David Alan Grier performs for a packed house at Forward Operating Base Loyalty in eastern Baghdad Feb. 10 as part of a USO comedy tour.