Come for the Films, Stay for the Laughs: The GIs of Comedy

Unnamed 2On Saturday, May 23, GI Film Festival attendees will be treated to entertainment from special guests, the GIs of Comedy, a stand up comedy tour featuring US military combat veterans of the United States Army and Air Force.

Created by Comedian & Producer Thom Tran, a retired US Army Staff Sergeant and combat veteran of Operations Enduring Freedom & Iraqi Freedom, the GIs of Comedy tour brings together headlining comics that have all served in different branches of the United States Military.

The GIs of Comedy have toured all over the continental United States, performing to thousands of service members, veterans, and supporters at 18 separate military installations and cities in 14 different states, providing the healing therapy of laughter to those who have served in the United States Armed Forces.

Knowing the mental and physical toll that combat can take on the lives of those who have deployed and their families, the GIs of Comedy are determined to help those troops heal through laughter.

The mission of the GIs of Comedy is to bring laughter and comedic relief to our US service members who have just returned from a combat deployment, who are preparing to deploy, or who support the war fighters. The GI Film Festival is thrilled to have them perform for guests on Saturday night. Click here for ticket information.

About The Comics

Each comedian on this tour is a veteran of the United States military, and all have spent time in active combat zones either serving as a member of the Armed Forces, as a comedian, or both!

UnnamedThom Tran

Staff Sergeant (Retired), United States Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command, US Army Special Operations Command.

Thom Tran created the GIs of Comedy Tour in 2010 to fulfill two needs. The first, to help his brothers and sisters in arms, both active duty and veterans, feel the healing power of laughter, knowing first hand how traumatic a combat deployment can be on both body and mind. And the second, to help heal his own injuries, both physical and mental, after he was medically retired from the Army because of wounds received in combat in Iraq.

Thom enlisted in the United States Army at 18 years old before he even finished high school. After joining the Army, Thom spent his entire career as a Communications Sergeant as well as a Civil Affairs Sergeant within the United States Army’s Special Operations Community. In 2003, four days after crossing the border into Iraq, Thom was wounded during a firefight when a sniper’s bullet found it’s way to the back of his skull. He bandaged himself up, continued the mission, and finished his 12 month tour in Iraq.

When Thom isn’t on the road he makes his home in Hollywood, CA performing at the Improv, The World Famous Laugh Factory, and clubs all over Los Angeles. Thom also works as a writer, producer, actor, and military consultant to Hollywood films & television shows having appeared on “CSI: NY”, “Deadliest Warrior”, “Coming Home”, and he recently joined the cast of the new web series “Caribe Road”.

His mission with the GIs of Comedy is to bring that same therapy to every man and woman serving in every branch of the United States Armed Forces so that they don’t have to travel the same dark paths he did when he separated from the military.

Unnamed 1Jose Sarduy

Major (Active Reserve), United States Air Force Reserve Jose Sarduy was the first member of the GIs of Comedy selected for the group.

A chance meeting at a Los Angeles comedy club brought the two together. Now as Thom’s close friend, trusted teammate, and “brother”, Jose is the team’s XO, or Executive Officer, when Thom’s Producer duties take him away from the team’s day-to-day operations, despite the fact that Jose technically out ranks Thom.

Jose, the son of Cuban immigrants in the 1980’s, is still an active member of the United States Air Force Reserve. When he is not on tour with the GIs of Comedy, Jose is a Major and flight instructor at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas where he trains young pilots. He’s also an accomplished aviator and combat veteran of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

Like Thom, Jose’s father was a political prisoner. After having criticized Fidel Castro, the elder Sarduy was put in prison, and then the family was deported to the United States. Jose grew up in Miami, FL, then later attended the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO, and was commissioned an active duty Air Force officer.

Jose found comedy in the clubs of New York City while he was stationed at nearby McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. After winning comedy awards and making a name for himself on the comedy scene, Jose left active duty to pursue comedy full time, hoping to later have a career in politics.

Jose has been featured in the Air Force Times, was selected for as a finalist in the Seattle Comedy Competition in 2009, and the Lucky 21. His comedy career started out in New York and Philadelphia, getting on stage anytime he wasn’t serving. He performs all over the country now and is rapidly becoming an audience favorite for his ability to make deportation, and life threatening moments hysterical!

Tom Irwin

Private First Class (Former), United States Army

Known within the GIs of Comedy as “TI”, Tom Irwin, literally grew up in the next town over from Thom Tran in Buffalo, NY and shared the same friends, but never met until they both performed at the Laugh Factory at a USO benefit. TI was selected for the team not only for his comedic chops but also for his dedication to serving the United States Armed Forces, having performed on FOUR separate comedy tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tom Irwin spent his time in uniform with the US Army’s 5th Engineers, and now builds his career as a standup comedian based in Los Angeles, and tours all over the world.

Although Tom served in the Army during peacetime, his multiple tours to Iraq to perform for our service members shows his continued dedication to those who continue to serve in the Armed Forces.

Tom also turned one of his nearly month long tours in Iraq into a riveting one man show called “25 Days In Iraq”, which he took throughout the country performing to both civilian and military audiences, and at the White House!

To purchase tickets to the Best of Fest, featuring the GIs of Comedy, please click here.