War is rarely funny, but four wounded soldiers brought their humor to The Pier this Veterans Day, where students and community members came to see a live show called "The Comedy Warriors: Healing through Humor."

"I got blown up on a shopping trip," Joe Kashnow said, jokingly lamenting that he didn't have a more interesting story about losing his leg.

Bobby Henline was the only survivor of a roadside bomb that left him with burns on more than 38 percent of his body. "I did four tours in Iraq – that last tour was a real blast," he said to raucous laughter. About 70 students and community members attended the free show, said Zach Giberson, Spider Board's live entertainment chairman.

The Comedy Warriors project began with a documentary in 2013 that paired several wounded veterans with professional comedians, including Zach Galifianakis, Lewis Black and Bob Saget. The movie won audience awards at film festivals across the country, and is available for streaming on Netflix.

After honing their chops and timing in some of Los Angeles' biggest comedy clubs, the stars of "The Comedy Warriors: Healing through Humor" now tour the country.

Spider Board brought the show to campus to raise awareness of the issues veterans face when returning home, said Chloë Zung, Spider Board president and Westhampton College '15. "I think Veterans Day is often not recognized on college campuses," she said. 

No topic was off-limits during the 90-minute set, with jokes covering everything from the oddities of Wal-Mart to the horrors of marriage. But every performer touched on the injuries that had united them in comedy, including Darisse Smith, the show's only female veteran.

Recounting her years of crippling back pain from piloting helicopters, Smith concluded with a lesson: "Our message to everybody: Humor is how we get through it."

Contact reporter Ben Panko at ben.panko@richmond.edu

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