“A lot of people have asked me how I went from being a soldier to being a comedian,” Retired U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Thom Tran says in his Got Your 6 Storytellers talk. “Comedy is my therapy.”
On his fourth day in Iraq, Tran took a gunshot to the back of his skull in a gunfight. As Tran talks, footage of the incident from the field plays behind him. In it, he wipes blood from his neck and says, simply, “f***.”
Tran, who is now based in Los Angeles and works as a standup comedian, writer, producer, voiceover actor, and traffic reporter, has a punch line for everything.
He talks, for example, about how he holds so may jobs because he is constantly on the verge of being fired from at least one of them. He describes how memory loss — a result of his injury — allows him to hide chocolates from himself then find them with that same feeling of surprise you experience when you find money in a pair of pants. And he even manages to make the audience laugh about the way his father reacted to the video of his son being shot in the head.
“We have to be able to laugh at that,” he says, pointing to the video screen behind him as he stands before an audience that is experiencing shock, inspiration and side-splitting laughter all at once.
“Cause if I didn’t, I don’t know where I’d be today,” he continues. “Laughing, this therapeutic thing that comes from your soul, is the only thing I’ve found that can heal that.”
It’s no wonder Tran went on to found the GIs of Comedy, recruiting military veterans to travel and perform for troops and civilian supporters around the world as a way to bring laughter to them and to help them heal.
Watch his story, then share it with six of your friends.