YUMA, Ariz. --
Hundreds of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., Marines and sailors welcomed the Marine Corps Community Services Single Marine Program sponsored Leatherneck Comedy & Entertainment Tour held at the Sonoran Pueblo, Thursday.
The smiles, laughs, cheers and applause for the night were induced by a trifecta of comedians in Shayma Tash, Darren “The Party Starter” Carter, and Tom Green. Marines and sailors were also lucky enough to have been entertained by the headlining act, singer and songwriter Keri Hilson.
“This is an event that’s been generated by SMP input to put on some comedy type shows here to the base,” said Christopher Hamel. “As we’ve progressed in the Leatherneck shows, the attractions we’ve been able to get have been getting a lot better […] It’s turned out to be a really great event for the Marines to enjoy.”
There was no shortage of good times and memories to be had as DJ Big Mike kicked things off with some audience participation. A square dancing lesson broke out right from the get-go as guests were invited, some would say goaded, on stage to perform their best two-step moves. One of the participants, Sgt. Leon Branchaud of Headquarters & Headquarters Squadron combat camera, offered his thoughts on the experience.
“I was like, ‘Uh-oh, here we go,’ but it was great,” said Branchaud, a native of Woonsocket, RI. “The show was freakin’ phenomenal […] I free-styled, it was a lot of fun.”
Cutting a little rug, some would say flailing about, got everyone in the right mood for the opener, Shayma Tash, a San Diego, Calif., native who’s been performing for roughly 20 years.
“I’ve been doing shows for the military since 1999,” said Tash, who’s performed for troops in Bosnia, Croatia, Afghanistan, Okinawa, Korea and many other places. “I think it’s really important that our servicemen and women know that people in America think about them and appreciate what they do. We’re thankful that they help keep the peace in places where it’s obviously needed. They make sacrifices, they don’t get to see their families, and it’s rough, you know.”
Keeping those in attendance doubled over with laughter meant mission accomplished for Tash. Her opinions on everyday life and touching on the vast field of social interaction gave everyone something to relate to and laugh about.
“I thought she was really funny,” said LCpl. Darrin Goodrich, an administrative clerk with H&HS and a native Buchanan, Mich. “She really set the tone for the show and I really liked it – only kept going uphill from there.”
Uphill came in the form of Darren, world renowned party starter, Carter. A true to form character in his own right, Carter was a personable, well-received performer who doubled down his jokes with impressions and interactive audience participation.
“As soon as I knew it was a gig for the Marines, I said, ‘I’m in,’” said Carter, a Fresno, Calif., native. “Not to sound corny, but after 9/11, I decided I wanted to make this my priority. It’s like, if someone asked me to do something for the military? I’ll do it.”
For the headlining comedy act, Tom Green stepped up to the stage to deliver his irreverent and hilarious set. The comedian welcomed the audience with a video of his past antics that prepared everyone for his off-the-wall notions of modern life and his past experiences.
“I like performing for the troops, they’re always a lot of fun,” said Green, a native of Ottawa, Canada, who’s performed for troops over the years. “I’m big on comedy history and a lot of the comedians who I grew up idolizing did a lot of work with the military […] Bob Hope, for sure – he would say the military are the best audiences in the world. It’s great to get up and perform for a really appreciative group of people who are working hard and away from their families.”
The headlining act showed her appreciation on stage to a crowd of Marines eager for her arrival. Hilson came out and was immediately showered with adulation by Marines, from the front row to the back. The feeling was mutual, as Hilson cooed and awed spectators with her beautiful ambiance and charismatic presence.
“It was probably one of the best performances I’ve seen in a long time,” said LCpl. Cody Clemons, a H&HS postal clerk and a native of Buffalo, NY. “There was a signing, and after the singing I got a chance to talk to them as they were waiting for their plane. They were really down to earth people.”
This marked the third time the Leathernecks spectacle has come MCAS Yuma’s way. More shows are in the works, with the hope of growing participation from everyone on station. The general consensus among audience members is a definitive improvement every time the performers come out. With command on board, the event is seen as an opportunity for everyone in attendance to relax and pave the way for future visits.