Had to see if I still had it at 43 years old. Commentary by Dan Mahoney.
Last night I did a show at a cabin in the woods for 14 Purple Heart recipients who were on a weekend hunting retreat. I feel like I’ve done pretty much every kind of show, but this was my very first just standing in a living room next to a warm fireplace while a group of burly dudes in camo spread out rounds of ammo as they sat at a kitchen table or living room chairs.
As a performer I’d say the “conditions” were not the best. Ha. As a person I was truly inspired by my audience. They could not have been cooler to some guy (me) who showed up, stood up and started talking. Trust me they’d much rather had a stripper and I completely agreed she’d have been a more welcomed performance. But good luck getting a woman to drive over an hour into a mountain to meet a bunch of dudes in a cabin… even I was getting a Deliverance vibe by the tail end of my travels.
I’ve noticed over the years that the performances that mean the most to me are the ones that have me really thinking on my way home. The ones that stay with me, make me ponder, and possibly help me grow somehow. Last night I witnessed a group of men bust their asses to take care of a group of men who’d risk their asses with consequence. The hosts were determined to make sure these guys were having a great time. The guys themselves all smiled, laughed, gave each other and myself sh*t while being polite, fun and thankful. That doesn’t happen everyday.
I say this often: The world I see presented in front of me on/in the news or social media is not the one I experience. It’s a pity that anger and harsh opinions are more likely to infect our society’s information cycle than to create inspiration and thoughtfulness. Because my drive home last night was filled with the latter and it’s one I won’t forget for all the right reasons.
Thank you, gentlemen.
Last nights second show was the closest thing I’ve had to that feeling you get as a kid on Christmas morning. The lead up, excitement and joy. This happens to me every time I know a Soldier, Sailor, Marine or Airmen who I had the opportunity to entertain in Iraq or Afghanistan comes to see me here back home. Knowing they made it back and I get to see them HERE ALIVE! Nothing in my life has this kind of significance, importance and is as internally powerful. The joy is completely fueled by relief. In some cases seeing them can/has been difficult. Life back home is far from easy for a good number of our heroes. But seeing them, shaking their hand & sharing that manly or womanly hug let’s me know whatever fight they may be having at least it’s here on the home front now. My respect, friendship, support and loyalty will never waver and is always accessible. I grew up with only sisters. Who undoubtedly bring my life’s biggest joys. In a way I have always searched for a brother… I have found many. In life, the military and even the entertainment world. What is life without true bonds between humans? Just wandering I would think. I have been fortunate to never wander. Which brings me to last night. My friend here is named Micah Clifton. We met in Iraq where he was in charge of keeping myself and the other comedians safe. I bonded with Micah tighter then any other service member over all my years. I have zero doubt it was do to his great sense of humor that complimented an incredible professionalism. His job was to keep us ignorant, safe & clear of the possible dangers that could and did come upon us. He was/is simply the BEST I have ever encountered at giving you a smile that tricked you into thinking everything is fine. I know this because since he’s been out I have gotten the “let me tell you what was REALLY happening THAT DAY talk”. When I tell you it takes a truly special kind of person to be able to navigate situation like those. Please understand my words here can never do his courage justice. Micah is one example of so many men and woman who under our colors function in ways most could never even comprehend and they hope you never do. Micah’s just one story, he’s my protector, my Christmas morning… My Brother! You made it f*cking back! Will love you till my final breath!