MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- The spotlight clicks on, the microphone is hot and all eyes are on you. Now be funny.
Not many people have the talent to entertain as a standup comedian; where crowds are always different, tours can be rough and your wits must be sharply honed.
For the two comedians who toured clubs around the Combat Center Dec. 14, they showed getting in front of the microphone is merely business as usual as they delighted more than 100 spectators who gathered for the shows.
The Comic Night benefited the Toys For Tots program and featured comics Dan Smith and Marty Belafsky and was held at both the Hashmarks Staff Noncommissioned Officer’s Club and the Excursions Enlisted Club.
Smith, a Worcester, Mass., native, headlined the event and is no stranger to the military comedy circuit. He has performed for service members around the globe during his 13 overseas tours to locations such as Europe, Iraq, Afghanistan, Japan, Korea, Bosnia and Iceland.
Belafsky, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, recently teamed up with Smith for a show in Korea and has been in more than 20 feature films and has even opened for the legendary Rodney Dangerfield.
“This was my second trip out to Twentynine Palms and it’s literally one of my favorite bases. I love coming here,” said Smith, 35, who began comedy in his college years on a dare. “There is a lot of support here, and it gets kind of rowdy sometimes. I really like that.”
Smith was also one of the entertainers who performed at a similar event in September and was invited back by popular demand, said Kelly Coe, special events program manager with Marine Corps Community Services.
“Dan was very, very well received when he was here in September and is so supportive of our Marines and service members. That makes the whole experience with him great because he really wants to be here,” said Coe.
With Toys For Tots volunteers and donation barrels on hand, both comics did not hesitate to encourage patrons to give a little back to those in need throughout the night.
“This show was wonderful,” said Coe. “The Marines, Sailors and families did a great job supporting the event and so did our Marines collecting for the Toys For Tots in both clubs. We were able to collect toys and more than $350 in cash.”
Coe said changing venues from the base theater was a natural choice for the show.
“This particular show was done in the clubs instead of the theater because they are much more intimate and coincided with Bosses Night at Hashmarks and the NCO and Enlisted Club holiday party. So that was just a perfect fit,” she said.
For Smith, who said he gladly takes time away from his regular shows to perform for service members and being able to support Toys For Tots is a personal source of pride.
“We helped out Toys For Tots and that feels really great, but I just wish that it could have been more,” he said. “Anytime you can bring not just a laugh but actual, tangible help to somebody makes you feel pretty good.”