Comedians bring smiles to Camp Babylon

5 Aug 2003 | Spc. Melissa Walther

Saddam's amphitheater in Babylon once again rang with laughter as U. S. troops were treated to a USO show featuring comics from BET and HBO.

This is the four-member group's first stop in Iraq, having spent most of the tour in Kuwait.  With only a few days remaining in their 26-day tour, the entertainers are looking forward to performing for as many of the troops as they could.

"Bad morale is just a bunch of media hype," said headliner Kenny Rob, also known as "Big Suggah' Woogah', who is a resident of Harrisburg, Pa."  "We've even met people who really want to come back here after their tour's over.  That doesn't sound like bad morale to me."

"(The troops) do need some type of laughter," added Rob.  "So that's why we're here."

"I always used to watch Bob Hope in Vietnam when I was a kid," said Miss Gayle, a comedian from Fredericksburg, Va.  "I said I want to do that.  It was a dream for me, and now it's come true."

"I thought it would be a good thing to do the tour," she added.  "We're all here for the troops.  There's nothing like performing for the military.  The energy you get is great."

"It's amazing," said William Traxler, a resident of Washington, D.C.  "These people are starving for some entertainment."

"I really liked it a lot," said Lance Cpl. Gilbert Casanova, an administrative specialist with Marine Headquarters Group.  "It made me forget I was in Iraq.  It reminded me of watching TV at home.  It was fun."

"It's been a lot of fun for us, too," Traxler said.  "People are willing to wait a half an hour for you to get off the phone, just so they can say 'Hey, I saw you two camps ago, it was great!'  We remember a lot of the people we've met here."

"We don't just perform and leave," Rob said.  "We hang out with the troops.  We're living with them, even if it's only for a few days."

Soldiers, sailors and Marines got to hear how the comics felt about some of the things common to military life, such as the food. 

"MRE.  The military calls it a Meal, Ready to Eat, but it's really a Meal Rejected by Ethiopians.  They're starving and they wouldn't eat the things," said Trexler in his show.

By the end of the two-hour show, laughter and smiling faces filled the night air.