For those interested in supporting the National Military Family Association tonight will mark a good time to do it. The Landmark Magnolia Theatre will be premiering the documentary “I am Battle Comic” with 100 percent of the proceeds from the event going to the National Military Family Association.
“I Am Battle Comic” director Jordan Brady will also be in Dallas tonight at the premier. Brady said he chose Dallas as the city for the film because it has a healthy intersection of three criteria.
“A strong civilian support for our military, a comedy scene - Slade Ham just played Dallas, and I did the Improv back in the day - and finally there is a vibrant advertising and filmmaking community. Basically I knew we could get people out to see the film.”
Brady actually got involved in the project “I am Battle Comic” when Battle Comic Founder/Comic Don Barnhart asked Brady if he wanted to do stand-up on a tour he was putting together to the Middle East.
That stand-up comedy then became the backbone of the documentary, which is about stand-up comedians who traveled to the Middle East to entertain U.S. Troops on the front lines.
“He [Barnhart] had seen my other two documentaries on stand-up comedy and thought it was a great opportunity to show first-hand what it’s like to perform for the troops. From Bob Hope to Robin Williams, it’s the best way a comedian can serve,” Brady explained.
Brady said the experience working on the documentary was eye-opening.
“Heading over, as a liberal war-protesting filmmaker, I struggled with how best to leave my politics at home,” he explained. “Obviously, I would refrain from political jokes, but was I a hypocrite just by participating? Being there, meeting these brave men and women one on one, the term "the troops" takes on a new meaning.”
During his experience in the Middle East Brady said these men and women became real faces. They became individuals who volunteered to put home life on hold to serve our country.
“We can argue why we - the U.S. - are in the Middle East, but the fact remains we are there,” Brady added. “I enjoy tremendous freedom living in the US, in part because they are keeping us safe.”
As for the comedians who were chosen to travel to the Middle East for the stand-up tour and documentary, Barnhart (who has been putting these tours together since 1993) chose performers that he knew would engage with troops. He also chose comedians who had clean PG13 material like Houston native Slade Ham, Bob Kubota and Jeff Capri.
“All the comics interviewed for the film have done shows for the troops,” Brady said. “Wayne Federman in Iraq for instance, Jennifer Rawlings has Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Tammy Pescatelli has done Iraq with USO and AFE (Armed Forces Entertainment).”
The National Military Family Association was then chosen to receive 100 percent of the proceeds because of what they are doing kids of military families.
“My dad traveled for a few months when I was a kid, so I can only imagine a parent being deployed for a year,” Brady said recalling his own experience with a military parent. “They have family camps that help a parent/spouse reintegrate back into family life when they return home. Based on my conversations with troops while filming, that can be a culture shock. I just love what they are doing.”
“I Am Battle Comic” will be shown tonight at the Landmark Magnolia Theatre at 7 p.m.
“My hope is this film starts a conversation, that it offers civilians a glimpse of that sacrifice, so when they see a service member back home, they smile. They say thank you. Their coming home needs to be celebrated,” Brady concluded.