Memoirs of a War Zone Comedian

During the time of War in Afghanistan Circa 2012, i found myself employed, as a Comedian by the CSE (Combined Services Entertainment). At this time i was already gigging heavily for multiple promoters throughout the UK and had been for quite some time, 14 years to be exact. I'd seen lots of Comedians performing on the circuit with deep Mediterranean type tans.

After making a few enquiries as to how come they was so tanned? The reply was always vague and misleading, something was afoot!

Comedians, by their very nature are secretive and guarded about certain gigs and potential Cash Cows and instantly my Spidey sense started to tingle. I started to dig around and eventually discovered the CSE, I sent a copy of a show I'd recently done to the head of entertainments there and the rest, as they say, is history.

Within no time at all I was performing in Cyprus at a secret Military base for Soldiers returning from live Theatre in Afghanistan. This was called "Decompression" Whatever your position in the Military, Plumber, Admin, Infantry, Special Forces they all had to "Decompress" This is where I came in, amongst other artists.

The night would start with a few beers, two Comedians and a live band, all of which had been hand picked by talent scouts of the CSE. This was a kind of proving ground for the ultimate show and huge wage packet of Camp Bastion in Afghanistan and within just a few months or performing at Decompression I found myself strapped to the inside of a Hercules with other performers, with ear-plugs in full bullet-proof armour.

Now, the inside of these aircraft are vast as there's no insulation or anything else as they are transport planes, cargo and Soldiers, so they are loud and cold and very very dark and every now and then they release Chaff from the rear end when it's due to expire. Chaff is a molten spray which diverts heat-seeking missiles when they've locked-on to your aircraft.

There's no warning of this and there's no explanation as to whether it's being dumped or you're actually under attack, the plane just lights up with fire and the first time this happened I can honestly say I shat my pants. Little did I know that was the least frightened i would be on this tour and certain "incidents" would remind us all of actually where we were, how dangerous things are and how quickly things can spiral out of control. As far as the shows went, some of them were very tough and some of them were a delight but no matter what, you was always on your toes, never really comfortable enough to just relax for different reasons but mainly because, at any minute, you had to drop to the ground if the alarm was sounded, which it did, a few times! A Mortar landed and exploded just 400 yards away, I leapt from my skin and hit the deck and the audience, well, the audience just laughed at me.

It was the reaction i was aiming for but not for that reason which showed me just how quickly you can become desensitised when you are faced with imminent, life-threatening danger on a daily basis. This was soon to be realised by myself in a most shocking manner, completely out of the blue whilst lightly dozing on a military C-130 heading to Kabul, the most aggressive, war-rocked zone in the whole of Afghan. Kabul itself is just what you would expect to see if you'd only ever watched the news about these places, sandy, white rocks, run down crumbling shops and homes, market stalls, Donkeys fully-laden roaming the streets (they stuffed on of these with explosives once) Afghan children glaring at you through the window of your heavily armoured, bullet-proof mini bus giving you the finger, the thick of it.

Once you're in the air, all bets are pretty much off as in the RAF will let you have a go at flying the plane, which i did, it was fabulous, soaring at 25000 feet, skipping over the top of the clouds in full control of one of the biggest military airplanes in the sky under my control, it was so easy and extremely sensitive, you moved that Joystick a midges and the plane responded instantly making everybody in the hold gasp for breath as their stomachs turned over, the air was blue at times, you had to take quite a of flack if you'd woken one of the Sound and Lighting crew, they NEVER thought that was funny, ever!

As one of the guitarists found out after he thought it would be funny to bunny-hop the plane at 3am the dick. Techies hold a grudge. We soon found out how much they don't like that kind of thing or so I thought. Here's where things took a turn for the worst especially when I found out the real reason. After flying the plane or about half an hour I decided that was enough, it was a great experience but better left to the professionals, i climbed down from the flight deck and strapped myself in my seat, please note, i very rarely strap myself in, but this time, something told me to.

Suddenly, there was an awful wrenching and churning feeling in my stomach, the same feeling you get when you're on a huge roller coaster but a hundred times more pronounced.

The plane was lit by a very dim red light but you're eyes adjusted to it and you could see everything. Anything that wasn't strapped down was floating, including most of the French Generals sat facing me with weapons slung across their laps, these guys reached a good 10 feet in the air as did most of our crew and a huge yellow transformer that must of weighed 250 pounds. It seemed to of lasted for an eternity but in reality it was probably just a few seconds. I thought/knew I was going to die, death was inevitable, my blood ran cold.

I've heard that expression and never been able to relate, I'm telling you now, when you're faced with death, your blood runs cold, trust me. Relating back to before when I talked about being around desensitised people and being involved in incidents which may of caused me harm, i think a little bit of it had rubbed off on me. As the plane lurched and rocked, people floated and heavy objects swirled around me, people screaming and clinging on to netting for dear life, as my blood ran cold something very strange happened to me.

A serenity, something of which I've never felt before, washed over me. A peace I've never felt, a full fearless commitment to the inevitable death I thought was awaiting me as it was completely out of my control, I almost welcomed it. It made me wonder afterwards if this was the way the Taliban soldier thought? Or any freedom fighter/terrorist protecting his country, fighting an invader, if so, that my friend is a formidable opponent. It turns out, the reason for the plane creating a parabolic arc thus defying Gravity wasn't a member of the crew holding a grudge which is what i thought after it all settled down it was something else, something deadly and unforeseen.

A Drone being flown from a tin shed in Texas was doing it's routine reconnaissance of the Afghan desert but hadn't squawked it's existence to the control tower and was heading 400 foot per second to our aircraft, and the Pilot using sight only had to pull an evasive manoeuvre causing a gravity defying plunge toward the hot desert sands of Kandahar. Normally this can cost you about £30000 but I got it for free, every cloud ey?