As the country pays homage this Veterans Day, miltary service men and women are nothing to laugh at. But a group of veterans in Northeast Florida are doing everything they can to make people laugh, and some of them are getting pretty good at it.
“I talk about being old, short and white,” Pete Burdon said of his stand-up material.
He said sometimes he’ll see a beautiful girl in her 30s walk by when he’s sitting in the lobby waiting for a comedy show to start.
“I look at her and I tell myself, ‘I bet her mom is hot,’” Burdon said.
It’s just a joke.
The 70-year-old Marine Corps veteran is happily married and not interested in meeting women through comedy, but he will say anything if he thinks it will make someone laugh.
Burdon and Al Spencer took turns heckling comedians last week as other veterans tried out new material on stage at the Comedy Zone in Mandarin.
Spencer blurted out thoughts on how the comics could improve their jokes while Burdon offered quiet quips about the things he heard. It’s always a tough crowd at the workshop on Saturday afternoons, and both men got the same treatment when they got up on stage.
Spencer, 57, retired from the military in 2002 after 24 years in the Army. Now he uses comedy as a way to relax and blow off steam.
“Once you’ve gotten that first laugh from an audience it’s like an addiction, that’s a bond that’s very special,” Spencer said.
The two men are part of a large contingent of veterans in Northeast Florida who perform on stages of various sizes and work together to hone their comedic craft. Some of the local veterans treat comedy as a hobby, but others have dreams of making it big.
“I am now the adorable, older guy that makes people smile,” Burdon said of his role in the circle of veterans.
But he’s not the oldest in the group.
Sid Porter is a 78-year-old Air Force veteran who is happy telling jokes in front of small crowds.
Porter started off doing impressions when he was 8. He said he took his siblings to a movie one weekend and got his first glimpse of a bear named Andy Pandy.
The following Monday he entertained his classmates by impersonating the bear during show-and-tell.
“I did the whole cartoon, and I’ve been standing up on the stage ever since,” Porter said.
He moved on to imitating people like Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra. The guys in the Air Force laughed…