Never mind the barracks

Comics flock to entertain troops

More and more circuit comics are signing up to entertain the troops.

The work has long been associated with traditional stand-ups such as Jim Davidson, but forces' entertainment officers are keen to update the image with a wider variety of acts.

They had a good response from a recent appeal on Chortle for a new generation of comics - and the younger line-ups have proved popular with the squaddes.

Ed Byrne, Junior Simpson, Simon Day and Simon Bligh are among those to play to troops.

Byrne told his audiences in Bosnia and The Falklands: "This must be the first time an Irish man has stood in front of a room full of squaddies and not had a gun pointed at him."

Angie Moore, Entertainment Manager with Combined Services Entertainment (formerly the renowed concert party group Ensa), said comics enjoy their visits, too.

Moore said: "Ed really did seem to have a great time in Bosnia although it was hard work ­ the toughest audience being 60 per cent Gurkha who just smiled and nodded.

"And Simon Day went down a storm performing to British UN troops in Cyprus."

Simpson agreed to a gig in Northern Ireland, and Bligh is off to Kosovo this month.

It is a long way from the politicised beginnings of the alternative circuit, when many comics were staunchly anti-military.

A CSE spokesman said: "CSE has had to adapt to provide the type of show audiences expect and is constantly seeking fresh and new acts to complement the existing catalogue of well-known faces."

Comics interested in performing should email Moore - acts must be experienced enough to be in control of a large audience.

Published: 11 Mar 2002

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