Archives for posts with tag: Bobby Henline

A few months ago, a comic asked if I would tape a show they were planning on doing in Crowley, LA. Soon the day came and we headed out on the road. Things started out a bit hairy, because I met the guys at a gas station where they’d just got rear ended by a lady in an MG. Fortunately, we weren’t held up too much.

I got to spend the next five and a half hours with two comics that I have met in the past and would consider friends, but we weren’t great friends by any means. All that changes when you’re trapped in a vehicle for an extended amount of time.

I first met Anthony Torino and Bobby Henline at the first location of Corridor Comedy Club. We had talked briefly, as most comics do at comedy clubs. Off and on over the next year we’d see each other and chat for a bit. I had taped a couple of shows for both of them, which is why they’d asked me to tape the Crowley show.

Over the course of the almost 400 miles, we talked about just about anything and everything one could talk about. There were moments where we just sat there. And there were lots of moments when we cracked jokes – we’re comics, what can I say. We got to know each other better, and because of it, I feel closer to both Tony and Bobby.

On the way back to San Antonio, we picked up another comic, Dave Evans. I had only met him briefly once outside of the Velveeta Room before this trip. So the trip back to SA was even better. I gave Dave a lift to his car, at which time he asked if I wanted to go to Corpus on Wednesday.

And so Wednesday, I went to Corpus.

Originally, I thought it was just going to be Dave, but when the car pulled up, it was Derek Phelps, Taegon McLaughlin, as well as Dave. I was excited to go, but when Taegon and Derek were added to the car, I was even more excited! Why? Because both Taegon and Derek are some of my favorite guys from Austin. I’d say Dave too, but I had only known Dave from the trip back to SA (I forgot to mention we spent an extra hour or so in Houston because they shut I-10 down to one lane to paint stripes. On a Saturday afternoon? sheesh.)

It was about a 3 hr trip to Corpus, and Taegon slept a good portion of that. It was a great trip down and a great trip back. And the comedy show was “The Beer and Berto Show” hosted by Berto Garcia. Berto’s another comic that I’ve known about through other comics, but had only met briefly outside the Velveeta Room. I have to say, even though I didn’t get to go on a long road trip with Berto, I hope that one day I do. He’s a very positive and encouraging person.

I learned quite a bit on these trips. Tony and I have similar beliefs and get along great. We disagree on a few things, but we’re both mature enough to understand that having disagreements are just part of being human. Bobby is a great guy, and despite having endured a tragedy that would have ended most people’s lives, he’s an incredibly fun person to be around. Even if he was in the Army. Dave is a quiet guy, for the most part, and blows me away when he makes little comments. He just cracks me up, and I do my best to say funny things around him because he has this funny head shaking laugh thing he does…

Taegon slept a lot, both down and back to Corpus. Despite his unconsciousness, he was a lot of fun – as I’d come to understand about him. Derek is another quiet man. He talks, but quietly. Most of the trip down, I had to lean in to really hear what he was saying. Fortunately on the way back, I sat in the front and didn’t have to miss what he was saying.

But what I learned the most on these road trips is that I talk a lot.

Sometimes I get asked, as a Christian, why God lets bad things happen to us. I can’t pretend to know the will of God, but based on some experiences in my life, I know that good always happens – especially after bad.

As an example, I usually relate the story of how I gave up just about everything – including the core of my being – to be in a relationship with someone. It ended horribly, but that experience taught me through the heartache that I can’t give up who I am to be with someone. I have to stay true to myself in order to make anything work. As a result, I’ve been married to my wife for 8 years. We are about to have our 4th kid, and the last 10 years have been some of the greatest moments in my life. And I have to thank that bad relationship for giving me all this goodness.

For the last year, I’ve been performing stand up comedy. I’ve met lots of people. Two of them have really been inspirations – not only to me, but to others as well.

Born with it
I first saw John Dittmar (warning – language) at an open mic. When I saw him, I thought to myself that I didn’t want to give sympathy laughs. In my mind, I didn’t think this kid would be funny, and I didn’t want to patronize him by giving soulless laughs just because he had Cerebral Palsy. As it turned out, I didn’t need to. He was hilarious and probably the best comic of the night.

He turns 21 soon, and I’ve gotten to be friends with him over this last year. He does a lot despite having this… this… thing. This past summer he taught at a sort of Tech Camp. He helped a bunch of 5th graders learn about math and computers and stuff. That’s not something a typical 20 year old guy would do. He tells me about this and it’s usually about how horrible those kids were – but I could hear in his voice how much he really enjoyed it.

He doesn’t know it, but he’s been an inspiration to me. And if he’s been an inspiration to me, there’s no telling who else has been positively affected by interacting with John. He’s genuine, and he tries to help out whenever he can. He gives. He gives of himself and he gives what he can. Sometimes it’s just a self-deprecating joke. Other times it’s offering his time or knowledge on something. I always look forward to spending time with him.

If John didn’t have cerebral palsy, I may never have met him. He probably wouldn’t have gotten into comedy. But most importantly, he probably wouldn’t have been as much of an inspiration to others. I know he’s touched my life, and I can only imagine the countless others that have been inspired by John and he has no clue!

Life Changer
I believe it was October when I first met Bobby Henline (warning – language). I didn’t know his story, but I definitely knew he wasn’t born a burn victim. Later on I found out that he was serving in Iraq when his Humvee hit an IED.

Over the last four years, Bobby’s life has been drastically changed (to say the least). Rather than wallowing in pity and grieving over what had happened (like I think I would do), he turned the tragedy into comedy. And that has been an inspiration to just about everyone who has met Bobby.  I know that he has inspired me to make the most of what I have.

Yes, Bobby’s last tour in Iraq really was a horrible thing, but there’s no way to measure how much good Bobby has been able to spread around the world. He regularly visits wounded soldiers, and recently did a comedy show called “Humor for Heroes” where the majority of the crowd were veterans.

Bobby could very well have let this turn him into a bitter, hateful man, but he chose to go a different route, and I know I’m better for having met the man.

If you get the chance to meet either of these guys, or would like to see their comedy – you should. I know Bobby is a regular at LOL in San Antonio, and John is doing what he can to perform while going to Texas State.

Life would definitely be better for both of them if things had turned out “normal,” but thanks to these events, I have come to know a couple of great guys. And I also know that these two guys have been able to inspire those around them. It would be easy to question God’s motives for both of these men’s lives, but in the end I feel the sacrifices made were worth what we’ve gained.